'Dearest Sister' exclusive clip: A haunting turns bloody
In the new horror movie Dearest Sister, a young woman named Nok is sent to care for Ana, a blind relative who’s been having supernatural visitations. Nok tries her best to keep the ghosts from harming her “dearest sister,” until she realizes the spirits tell Ana winning lottery numbers that Nok can use to rise above her station.
Dearest Sister is directed by Mattie Do and premieres exclusively on the horror streaming service Shudder, today (Jan. 12). It is also one of the very few films ever made in the country of Laos, where the Los Angeles-born Do is now based.
You can watch an exclusive clip from the film above and read an interview with Do, below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did Dearest Sister come about?
MATTIE DO: I remember going to Fantastic Fest in Austin with my first DIY film, Chanthaly. I had never really gone to a film festival before, much less been a part of one as a filmmaker, and I was immediately enthralled. It was an amazing environment to be surrounded by other filmmakers, people who were passionate about films from all corners of the world, and to meet people like the programmers who search for those films. Todd Brown, one of the programmers of Fantastic Fest, first discovered Chanthaly, and a few days into the fest, he took me to an IHOP in Austin for good old American breakfast (which I missed dearly). Over pancakes, he asked me, “Are you working on a new project? Do you think you’ll be submitting something to Fantastic Fest again?”
I had to think fast, because I knew I wanted to find a way to go back to Fantastic Fest, so I kind of grasped at this story idea that my husband and I had been mulling over and blurted out a really diluted version of what is now Dearest Sister to him over a short stack of buttermilk pancakes. Everyone seemed pretty interested, so when I got back to Laos, we immediately started developing Dearest Sister in earnest. Eventually, L’Institute Français asked if we would be interested in submitting a project to their program in Cannes Film Festival’s ‘La Fabrique du Cinema des Monde’ (a project development platform for young film talent). I jumped at the chance to submit Dearest Sister, but really felt I had no hope of being accepted as part of the program, until I got the acceptance letter! It was very shocking to me! I never dreamt I’d be able to even get a sneak peek at Cannes, and next thing I knew, I was there pitching my project at a co-production market. Simultaneously, I was able to work with Indiegogo and Twitch (now ScreenAnarchy) to crowdfund, and while at La Fabrique I was able to acquire my co-producers from France and Estonia! It was really quite the adventure.
Given so few films have been made in Laos, what is the biggest challenge of directing a film there.
I suppose that the biggest challenge is finding funding. Most people would probably say that our complete lack of infrastructure and trained crew is a challenge, but from day one I started working without frills like having a big crew, fancy equipment, or even a PA or stable electricity! Those challenges are just a part of making films in Laos, and it often forces me and the people I work with to be more creative and resourceful. Funding, however, is a hurdle that becomes more and more difficult to tackle. Locally, there isn’t a lot of attention paid to our arts, investors are non existent, and sponsors don’t see much value in supporting film. I’ve had to turn to outside sources such as co-producers, foreign investors, and crowd-funding to have Dearest Sister made. Luckily, we were able to raise funds through Indiegogo and our contributors, and we also received support from the Swiss Development Agency for Cooperation and Beer Lao. My co-producers then made the post-production happen, and before I knew it, I had a finished film!
Do you know what you’re doing next?
I have so many ideas ready to go, but my next film, The Long Walk, is already in discussion with some great co-producers I’ve started working with. I’ve even had the opportunity to pitch the idea at SAFF (South East Asia Film Financing Forum) and Macao’s IFFAM Crouching Tigers Project Lab. It’s a pretty intense project, and quite unique. I don’t think there’s ever been a story quite like it! At it’s core, it’s a dark thriller, that deals with isolation, regret, and Western development sweeping through the impoverished countryside of Laos, but what will be quite interesting is that it’s a science fiction thriller that takes place in an extremely rural village! It’s going to be nuts.