Out of all the Vietnamese films I saw at this year's LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, the only one stood out was Father and Son (Cha Cõng Con). The other three films were rather tamed in my opinion. This article was written back in May immediately after I watched it in theater. I've wanted to hold off on it until father's day. Father and Son's familiar tear-jerking story mostly appeals to older audience but everyone should check it out for the stunning cinematography and nostalgic elements.
Whenever Vietnamese cinema is discussed, it's often criticized as having "notoriously stiff acting", "horrible script" and "embarrassing special effects". Maybe these criticisms are true but there are many great Vietnamese films upstaged by these bad reputations.
In this article of Vietnamese Cinema, we spotlight 20 films that really deserve more attention. Please note, the first 10 films are made by domestic filmmakers in Vietnam, and the next10 are by overseas Vietnamese called Viet Kieu. ...continue reading →
It's been almost a year since the documentary "Terror in Little Saigon" had ignited emotional reactions from the Vietnamese community. Some were against the film and others were supportive of restoring the investigation of the murders of five Vietnamese-Americans. Blames were hurled and petitions were created from both sides. The film's opponents scolded that it would irrevocably damage the image of Vietnamese enclaves as peaceful and thriving. Proponents pointed fingers at their own people for being passive and ignorant at the crimes. Facts were upstaged by false pride, a cloak for insecurity. The pursuit of truth was a license to exploit the subjectivity of the past. Silence has always been the residue of shame and guilt.
“Ăn Quả Nhớ Kẻ Trồng Cây", a Vietnamese proverb that means when eating a fruit remember who planted the tree. Not only do we remember our benefactor but we have to re-pay that generosity by planting new trees for others. With the current Syrian refugee crisis, it hits home to many Vietnamese Americans who’d been there before. A quick Google search shows heart wrenching images of Syrian civilians’ plight for freedom mirroring the Vietnamese boat people after the Vietnam War. It’s important for Vietnamese Americans to voice their concern over this emergency even though we are only a minority. Our actions do make a difference. We were on the same boats as the Syrians now, only we were a little luckier. What we do as American minority now is crucial to our future in this country. We can no longer stay silence and passive in politic. We have an obligation to at least do something. We must plant the seed for this tree that will grow.
Came across this rather entertaining and flashy Vietnamese animated commercial.
I thought this was produced by Vietnamese. To my dismay, an Ad agency called JWT commissioned a New Zealand animation studio to produce video advertising dairy products to Vietnamese kids. Most animations shown on Vietnamese TV are produced by foreign studios or by studios in Vietnam under foreigner's supervision. Vietnamese kids rarely get a glimpse of animation from their own country made by their own people. The lack of exposure to local audience is only the tip of the problem that prevents Vietnamese animation from growing. The other big issue is quality, in which a noted Vietnamese animation director bluntly says, “…the best Vietnamese 3D animation can hardly compare with the work of US university students.” That’s a pretty freaking depressing thing to say about an industry! But it’s kind of true though. This is very disappointing considering there is a decent history of Vietnamese animation reaches back to the early 60s. Let's dig deep and take a look.
Around 39 A.D. in Vietnam, two sisters and their supporters lead a huge rebellion against Chinese invasion. These Amazonian-like women are Trưng Trắc, Trưng Nhị, and their army made of many female warriors. I don't think anywhere else in the world during this time women have such freedom and power. Even though they fail in driving the Chinese away for good, their exploits imply a very different Vietnamese social order. Maybe, Vietnam is a matriarchal society before Chinese domination. ...continue reading →
I saw an article from Yahoo news the other day about why so many Viets work in the nail industry. I've always wonder about this since I have family, relatives, and friends who work with the trade. It turns out that Tippi Hedren, the famous Hollywood actress in a couple of Hitchcock films, inspires the start of it all. A very long time ago, while she was helping Vietnamese women refugees at Camp Hope, they saw her nails and were enamored by them. That adoration breathed life into the then unpopular industry. No doubt Michelle Phan should call Tippi grandma and pay her loyalty fees. Anyhow, that's how a lot of Vietnamese people got into the nail industry.
Trương Quế Chi's film Black Sun (2013) will be screened at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen in the International Competition Program. The date is 6/05/2014 and the location is the Lichtburg Filmpalast theater in Oberhausen, Germany. I don't know what the time is. If anyone is in the area, check that film out. It's an amazing short film! I saw it at Yxine's website when they put it up. The film is taken down at the moment due to distribution acquisition. ...continue reading →
On February 8th, 2014 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), there was a single channel screening of films from a group of artists including Nguyen Trinh Thi. The video above is an interview conducted by the facility to illuminate the filmmaker's background, her process of working, her thoughts on media art, and her take on landscape. ...continue reading →