Female Filmmaker Friday: Mattie Do, First Female to Direct a Lao Film

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"I really want for a new generation of filmmakers, who are very indie, to be able to say, 'I only have $5000...if she can make a film, so can I.'"

Mattie Do is a Lao director who became the first female to direct a Lao film. Born in Los Angeles, California to immigrants from Lao, Mattie Do never aspired to be a part of films. As a young girl, she wanted to be a dancer. To pay for her classes, she moonlighted as a makeup artist, thus introducing herself to the world of storytelling and film.

Being inspired by indie filmmakers she saw at film festivals, Do made her first film for less than $5,000. Her directorial debut, Chanthaly, is the first horror film written in Laos and to be screened outside of Southeast Asia, at Luang Prabang Film Festival in 2012 and Fantastic Fest in 2013.

In 2014, Do’s second feature, Dearest Sister, was screened at Cannes Film Festival. At the 90th Academy Awards, the film was picked as the Laotian entry for Best Foreign Language Film. It was the first time Laos submitted a film in this category.

Still only at the beginning of her career, Do is hopeful she will be able to reach a larger audience with her work. She continues to be inspired by independent, as well as mainstream, filmmakers around her and feels optimistic about the future of filmmaking.

Listen to Mattie Do speaks about what keeps her going as a filmmaker, even with low budgets: