LA FABRIQUE AT CANNES – Mattie Do, “Dearest Sister”

(part of a multi-article series about the 2014 Fabrique des Cinémas program at the Cannes Festival)

THE PITCH: A young peasantwoman tries to lift herself out of poverty by turning a rich but blind cousin’s predicament to her advantage.

Since working as a make-up artist and learning moviemaking on the fly are you now fully settled in your role as filmmaker ?
After working so hard and independently on my first film, it’s hard to consider myself anything but a filmmaker. Being that Laos has little-to-no cinema scene or support, everything had to be done by myself and my tiny team, around the clock. We didn’t have any infrastructure that I could fall back on. From creating the story with my screenwriter, to pitching the project to potential funders, to receiving government approval and simply making the film and finishing it, it had to be me! If anything, I feel like there was no easy transition into becoming a full-fledged filmmaker in this case. It was sink or swim.

Describe cinema in one brief sentence
Cinema is a perfect way to communicate story and bridge emotional gaps across a vast array of cultural differences.

Tell us about “Dearest Sister” – how did this adventure begin?
The film is currently in pre-production so we haven’t shot it yet. Our country is still not entirely familiar with the rest of the world, and I’m happy to be able to show a glimpse of Laos to a wider audience. I have the opportunity of being able to share what I observe and experience in this little-known culture to the rest of the world, and I intend to.

The shooting conditions are harsh, to say the least. We lack a lot of equipment and technical crew, the weather is extreme and unpredictable, and even electricity is unstable. It’s a real adventure. I often wonder how many other film crews have issues like actors not showing up due to dengue fever outbreaks.

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Did you and your husband also work closely on this project together? Who handles what?
My husband is my screenwriter and he’s wonderful to work with. I feel very fortunate that I have the chance to work that closely with my writer-husband and he really finds every way possible to incorporate all the elements that I need in my story into the final draft of my script. He’s also always there for instant changes to the script onset, and has no qualms about re-writing everything until I’m happy.

Not only was he also my director of photography but he also finished my final edit after I created the initial rough cut of the film.

It’s really great to be able to have open communication with the screenwriter and D.P., especially to have one that understands what I need visually and pacing-wise. I’m very lucky to have him!


A scene from “Dearest Sister”