Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another one yet from Savannaket -- The Nang Lit Theaeter -- Savannaket, Laos

A half a block from the Lao Chaleun Cinema and on the opposite side of the street stands the Nang Lit Theater. Just off Savannaket's town square, the Nang Lit still occasionally screens movies, as it did for the recently released and ever rare Laotian film, Sabaidee Luang Phrabang.

A middle aged woman running a small minimart across the street gave me the general stats on the old theater: the original owner, in an act of paternal adoration, named the theater after his daughter, Lit. He was of Lao-Chinese descent and left the country for gay Paris after the defeat of the royalist regime. He, as well as his daughter Lit, have since passed away.

Apparently the place operated normally until 1991. Since then it's been turned into a cultural center, occasionally opening its doors for a movie screening.


I wasn't able to find out when it was built, but the minimart owner says it's been there as long as she's been on the planet. I'm guessing it was built in the 1950's or early 60's. It's definitely architecturally out of character for most of Savannaket, which is more French colonial.

Among the things listed on the poster paper in the lobby: no weapons, sharp item or things that can make people sick are permitted in the theater.

Ticket prices are 3,000 Kip for Lao and 10,000 for foreigners

(On a side note, Savannaket used to have another 2 theaters, The Savan Rama and one which nobody could recall the name of).

5 comments:

  1. awesome project! let me know if you need help from the Singapore side.... I believe there are some renovated/converted cinemas around. cheers!

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  2. there are some fantastic old theatres in malaysia as well!

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  3. Cool! How about Vientiane - I remember seeing some state sponsored theatre - at the old Odeon Rama - guy outside was touting deperately for people to come in "It's air conditioned!"-I think it was around Constitution day 1996 on a theme of not hunting protected species-the National Drama Troupe -very good acting-real tears! and dramatic fifties lighting - spots, shadow, seats were comfy-there were a few special guests and the rest just hoi polloi. I may have been there in the seventies too- I saw several Indian movies in Vientiane between 72-75 ,one about an elephant... and also went to a marathon movie session in LPB for Chinese New Year in 1974- the films -one Indian and one Chinese-went for HOURS!

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  4. The title theater for this site is actually a VTE theater -- the Bua Savan. I'm not sure exactly where it is by street name, but if I remember correctly it's about 3 blocks back from the river, towards the western end of central VTE. Not a great description, I know, but the best I can give without a map or any references. Litterally just around the corner from there is the Viang Samay Theater, which is now only a facade and marquee, but very striking. Next to that there is a hotel of about the same size which was once a third theater. Apparently there was once a 4th in town -- maybe the Odeon Rama -- in a market, but I think it's been torn dorn.

    I have more photos of the Bua Savan and the Viang Samay, but they were taken with a really low megapixel camera, so I'm hesitant to post them.

    I believe there is still a theater in LPB, but not functioning, of course.

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