Kim Mourdant • Australia • 2013
Since the time he was born, Ahlo has been told he’s bad luck. Twins are inauspicious in Laotian culture, and Ahlo’s brother perished during childbirth. To the objection of some in her family, Ahlo’s mother raised the small boy anyway, showering him with attention and love. But others are quick to blame Ahlo when, years later, a man in military gear arrives at their ancestral village, informing the community they must leave to make way for a dam.
Having previously directed a documentary about children in Laos who sell unexploded bombs for scrap metal, and starring a street kid as the charismatic Ahlo, Kim Mourdant’s narrative debut is a sensitive, naturalistic portrayal of childhood in contemporary Laos. The Rocket premiered at Berlin, where it won the Crystal Bear, the Amnesty International Film Prize, and Best Debut Film; and Tribeca, where it won Best Actor, Best Narrative Feature and the Audience Award. The Rocket was Australia's official submission to the 86th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.