Tag Archives: Lone Buffalo

Haam Jap! (Don’t Touch)

This was a great project I worked on in Laos last year. The kids learned filmmaking skills, had a good time, and got to go to the capital (most had never been there). The twelve hour bus ride was a bit of an ordeal, but it was worth it.

Here is the info about the project:

Conceived, written and produced by the students of Lone Buffalo, the short film ‘Haam Jap’ is a Public Awareness Video designed to alert children in Laos (and worldwide) of the continued danger of Unexploded Ordnance.

The film was shown at the 2015 Vientianale International Film Festival.

The students wrote three scenarios in which bombies can maim or kill. They used props available in the classroom and local market to produce special effects, and shot the film on location in and around Phonsavan.

On Vimeo:

If you can’t see the video above, click here.

Film Director Teng Vue Fai Dang (18) said he wanted to create a film that would remind both children and adults that bombies are sadly both metaphorically and physically “in our roots” and will pose a danger for many years to come, especially in Xieng Khouang, the world’s most heavily bombed province.

The only shots not taken by the students were of the defused munitions, since it was deemed inappropriate for them to be near or handle actual UXO, even though it was all FFE (Free From Explosives).

On YouTube:

If you can’t see the video above, click here.

The film was Executively Directed by Jon Witsell and James Thomas. This film was produced for and funded by the US State Department.

Lone Buffalo is an free English Language project in Phonsavan, North East Laos. The students who produced this film live in Xieng Khouang Province.

 

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Unexploded Ordnance: Don’t Touch!

This is a poster that is at the Phonsavan, Laos, office of UXO-Lao, the national demining organization. As you might expect, more boys than girls are maimed/killed by the Vietnam-era unexploded ordnance left over from the Secret War, in which the United States played a major role (those are all munitions manufactured/deployed by the United States pictured in the poster).

Photo Unexploded Ordnance Haam Jap!

The red text in the upper left states Haam Jap! (roughly translated: Don’t Touch!). I’ll have a follow up post about a very cool film project done with the Lone Buffalo school’s students soon. Stay tuned!

Posted in Humanitarian Photography, Travel Also tagged , |

Symbolism in Tom Waits’ Hell Broke Luce

I recently taught a filmmaking class to a group of students at the Lone Buffalo Foundation in Phonsavan, Laos. Since Laos is the, per capita, most heavily bombed country on the globe, I thought that Tom Waits’ Hell Broke Luce might be a good, if difficult, choice to show the concept of symbolism.

If you can’t see the video above, click here.

Well, I was right on that last count. Not only was it difficult, it was downright incomprehensible to the students. It’s an oddly uncomfortable feeling to be standing up in front of a class after showing a video that you are excited about and feel is a perfect example for a certain aspect of your lesson plan, and have the entire class look at you as if you, and the video, are from another planet. I wasn’t sure why Hell Broke Luce had flopped as an example, but the class was nearing its end so we wrapped things up for the day.

However, a few weeks later, I realized I wanted to give it another go. Symbolism is, when used well, an incredibly effective means of telling a story without the direct use of language. When effectively combined with language (in this case lyrics), it can then be even more powerful. It was worth giving it another try.

So, I spent some time thinking about the reasons why the students hadn’t connected with the video. I came up with four:

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Production Photos: Lone Buffalo Film Crew!

With all the excitement of the our film being shown at the Vientianale Film Festival (a group of Lone Buffalo students made an Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) awareness film for youngsters) I had been remiss in posting some of the photos of the crew and production.

(For photos of the students at the film festival, see here.)

I’ll make up for that now:

That’s me to the left and the wonderful James Thomas to the right. James is a journalist and volunteered to help produce the film; his wife Jackie was a volunteer English teacher at Lone Buffalo.

Lone Buffalo Vientianale 01

That’s Ms. Pa on the floor next to me. We were exploring the concept of using a low camera angle to make a subject seem larger or more powerful.

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Lone Buffalo at the Vientianale Film Festival

Finally! Here is the video and some photos of the Lone Buffalo students at the 2015 Vientianale Film Festival, where they presented their Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) awareness film Haam Jap! (Don’t Touch!) to a standing room only theater!

If you can’t see the video above, click here.

Only two of the students had ever been to the Capitol, so it was quite the experience for them. It was quite a trip—nine hours on a bumpy, serpentine road. There was extensive car sickness, even with a dosing of motion sickness medication before we left Phonsavan…

Photo Lone Buffalo Vientianale

The Students (and Philip, Second From Right) Presenting Their Film

 

Photo Lone Buffalo Vientianale

Posing In Front Of The Vientianale Sponsor Board. That’s Paula, Another Teacher, To The Right

 

Photo Lone Buffalo Vientianale

The Vientianale Program

 

But even with all the excitement of the festival, I think the following photograph captures my favorite experience of the entire trip. Philip (one of the teachers at Lone Buffalo, my translator during the film classes, and one of my all-time favorite people in Laos) was sitting next to Kou Kham, who is all of twelve years old (and one of the actors in the film). Kou Kham had a rough time of the trip, and after a long bout of car sickness, pretty much just passed out. Of course, you end up bouncing all over, which just adds to your intestinal misery.

Philip laid him down and hung onto him so he could get some rest. Right as this happened, that orange-red Lao sun broke through the clouds and lit up the inside of the bus. The light was gone a few seconds later.

These are the kind of people I meet in Laos; These people are the reason why I keep coming back.

Photo Lone Buffalo Vientianale

Being Carsick Does That To You!

 

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