International Film Club: The Rocket

Review by Susan Campbell

I am thoroughly enjoying the TMPS International Film Club and the latest screening was no exception. “The Rocket” is an award winning 2013 Australian made film set in Northern Laos. A thought provoking and heart-warming story on so many levels it has certainly sparked my interest to learn more about Laos, its history, its people, its customs.

The story centres on a family who is relocated to a shanty village despite big promises from the company building a dam that will submerge their home. The building of hydro-electric dams and the impact this has on people is a very sensitive issue in Laos highlighted by the fact that the censors in the communist nation stopped the film from screening because it deals with such a touchy issue

Before watching the film, I knew nothing of the Boun Bang Fai or Rocket Festival where self-made rockets are launched from a communal launch pad. The festival is a call for rain and a celebration of fertility. People gather in the fields on the outskirts of villages and towns to launch self-made firework rockets and compete for the best decorated and the highest travelling rocket. Traditionally, rockets are made by stuffing gunpowder into elaborately decorated bamboo but today, many different materials are used, including glass or metal piping. Attending this festival is certainly now on my “bucket list’ and I can’t wait to visit this fascinating country.