Dearest Sister

One of this year’s most intriguing films is directed by Lao’s only horror film director, actually the country’s only female director in general, Mattie Do. Nok, a young woman from the impoverished rural areas moves to the city to accompany and support her cousin Ana who has suddenly suffered a loss of vision. Ana lives a posh upper class life with her European husband and their servants in a fancy home. Ana may be blind but it doesn’t take long before Nok realizes that she she sees and can communicate with the dead. An ability which is as advantageous as it is insidious, as it turns out.

Dearest Sister is a strikingly atmospheric ghost story sprung from the local folklore at the same time as it is a sharp study of colonialism, social inequality, class and gender politics, despite the country’s censorship. The film is Mattie Dos second film and Laos 13th movie – ever. As the director puts it herself: “Every Lao film is a historic event. Every film made here breaks ground in a totally new film industry.” And Dearest Sister is a historic event indeed, a brilliant multi-layered and uncomfortably evocative one.

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