A ten-year old boy named Ahlo is believed to bring bad luck and is blamed for a string of disasters. When his family loses their home and are forced to move, Ahlo meets the spirited orphan Kia (9) and her eccentric uncle Purple: an ex-soldier with a purple suit, a rice-wine habit and a fetish for James Brown. Struggling to hang on to his father’s trust, Ahlo leads his family, Purple and Kia through a land scarred by war in search of a new home. With remarkable access to real rituals and festivities in the mountains of Laos, the film is a unique view into a world never seen on film before. Featuring an extraordinary leading performance from gutsy former street kid Sitthiphon Disamoe as Ahlo, the film also stars veteran actor and comedian Thep Phongam as a damaged but humorous ex-soldier who becomes a mentor to our young protagonist. Director Kim Mordaunt joins us to talk about the challenges filming in a country with virtually no film industry and the international political issues that inform this remarkable film.
“The Rocket is… at its strongest the story is a seamless melding of history’s dark undertow and a child’s indefatigable optimism.” Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times
“Disamoe demonstrates the resourcefulness he learned during a period when he was a street seller and beggar. It’s his exuberant performance, as much as the pungently naturalistic setting, that lifts The Rocket’s scenario above the generic.” Mark Jenkins, NPR
“The visually stunning location of Laos provides an enthralling and evocative backdrop for director/screenwriter Kim Mordaunt’s engaging film The Rocket, a lush and bruising coming-of-age story.” Mark Adams, Screen International