Laos director Mattie Do and Swiss producer Annick Mahnert are working together on “The Long Walk,” a project that was at the first edition of the IFFAM Project market in 2016 and is showing as a work in progress at the Macao Industry Hub.
The pair previously teamed up on “Dearest Sister.” The film was the movie was the first to be submitted by Laos for the Oscars foreign language category.
“After my first two films, I didn’t want to do another movie about Lao women trapped in their Vientiane houses, so I started out with this idea about an old man walking up and down the same stretch of dirt road outside his village and his only company was the ghost of a girl that died on the road when he was a boy,” Do told Variety. “At the time, my husband and I were starting to notice that our whippet, Mango (who starred in my first film!) was beginning to get really old. He was blind and deaf and half-senile and he’d had a bout of vesticular disease that had left him really wobbly. So we were coming to terms with the end of his life and trying to talk through the idea of having him put to sleep. I guess that all probably sounds a bit all over the place, but this film sort of evolved out of those conversations about our little old dog.”
Despite the global recognition for “Dearest Sister,” the team found it difficult to raise funds for “The Long Walk.” Several European state funding agencies passing on it.
“After the refusals we started looking for private funding and very quickly Justin Deimen from Aurora Media Holdings (whom I had met in Singapore during the market and who had been following “Dearest Sister’s” festival run) showed interest in co-financing the film,” says Mahnert. “They genuinely believed in what we were trying to do, and we very quickly agreed to coproduce together. We also received production funding from the Visions Sud Est fund in Switzerland, which helped us close the financial plan.”
“From equipment dying in the heat and humidity to having no resources, to getting the crew to make it through the wild jungle terrain of Laos, I’d say it’s been a pretty wild ride, but grit and determination, all of our producers’ committed support, plus a bit of luck here and there, really got us through it,” says Do.
“The Long Walk” is a coproduction between Lao Art Media in Laos, Screen Division in Spain, and Aurora Media Holdings. The team’s goal in Macau is to meet festival programmers, sales agents and investors, and pitch Do’s pipeline of upcoming projects.
Do’s slate includes: an immigration-themed thriller set between France and Laos; a ballet-genre concept that could be a series or a film; and an artistic body horror set in Europe.
Mahnert is equally busy. She coproduced the documentary “Memory: The Origins of Alien,” directed by Alexander O. Philippe, that will premiere at Sundance in January. “Guachicolero,” the first feature from Mexico’s Edgar Nito, is in post-production. In addition, Mahnert is executive producing another documentary, “Cryptozoologist” by Brad Abrahams.