I first heard about T. Kim Trang Tran at the Flaherty Film Seminar many years ago and have been fascinated with her work. She’s been making experimental films since the early 90s and is one of the only three accomplished Vietnamese experimental filmmakers that I’m aware of in the US. The others are Trinh Minh Ha and Nguyen Tan Hoang. Tran started working on The Blindness Series since she was in graduate school. In an interview, she says that her purpose for making these films is to address the fear of blindness and its opposite, which is vision. This motive stems from her inspiration by the philosopher Jacques Derrida and his theory of binary opposition. There are eight films in the series-- Alethaia, Operculum, Kore, Ocularis, Ekleipsis, Alexia, Amaurosis, and Epilogue: The Palpable Invisibility of Life. Each one tackles the theme of vision loss through various social, psychological, historical, sexual, and political issues. What struck me most was how different they are. However, the marriage of style and theme in each film is not arbitrary. For each film's structure fits perfectly with its subject. I didn't see them in order since they each stands on their own. I'm really inspired and compelled to write about the films but I don't just want to write about them in a conventional sense. Add to the fact that I'm not that good at writing and has a bullheaded background in experimental filmmaking. All in all, cinema is a visual and aural art form. You just have to see and hear the films to be moved by them. So I want to play with different ways of writing hoping to do justice to Tran's effective pairing of structure and content. The way that I write each film is different. I played with textual imagery, inverse text, mirror text, hidden text, missing text, and multi-language text to make each method of writing relevant to the theme of each film. I'd like the reader to break out of his/her comfort zone when reading the article and hopefully will try to see the films someday. They are difficult to get but are available from various distributors in the US. Many thanks to Tran and Third World News Reel, I got to see the films and here is what I have seen with my male Vietnamese slanted eyes. ...continue reading "Vietnamese-American Avant Garde Films: The Blindness Series"
"It was nerve racking. You could never know if harm would come your way or not. The worst part was you just didn't know. So you couldn't do anything. You couldn't plan anything. All was fear. Fear of them knocking on your door and then take you away. And they were always courteous. Asking you what you did during the war. You couldn't even speak to your neighbor without fearing of being a scapegoat, finger pointed, singled out, and sent off to re-education camp." My uncle talks about what it was like after the fall of the South. He recalled walking for miles to get home when the war was declared over with his mangled blistered feet. ...continue reading "Left Behind: Đất Khổ, Film From The South"
Who needs 4D in a theater? The moment you step out of the plane in Vietnam, your surrounding feels like a 4D film experience: the colors, the noise, the humidity, and the taste of a fly that has just flown into your mouth. ...continue reading "4D cinema in Vietnam"
Duy Le and associates at Beanshine Studio have created these infographics on Vietnam's mainstream films shown in theater in the years 2011 and 2012. ...continue reading "Vietnamese Mainstream Movie Report 2011-2012: Comedy Still Rules"
I want to start this post with this wonderful film that compliments the talking points. Shot on a DSLR. A simple yet creative story, single location, few actors. Lots of soul.
I love reading the monthly column Through The Lens of Thanh Nien News by Do Thi Linh. This month she criticizes Vietnamese filmmakers' reliance on technology to make/or not to make films. ...continue reading "Poor But No Less Cinematic – A Tale From Van Phuc Village"
These two very different films share a common theme: poverty. They are Chuyện tử tế (Story of Kindness, 1987) and Agarrando Pueblo (The Vampires of Poverty, 1977). ...continue reading "Chuyện tử tế and Agarrando Pueblo: Two Masterpieces from Vietnam and Colombia"
Jenny is the most prolific producer/assistant director in Vietnamese contemporary commercial/indie film right now. Check her IMDB page! I ran into an article from OneVietnam.org about her spilling the beans on film production in the motherland. Check out the bullet points in the article, especially the mentioning of which type of films are generally being supported/made in the South and in the North. She's currently with CHANH PHUONG FILM, one of the biggest production companies in Vietnam.
...continue reading "Jenny Trang Le: Prolific Producer/Assistant Director of Vietnamese Contemporary Cinema"
From 11-16 January 2014, at Doclab, there will be daily video projections of the performances pf artist Hoang Minh Duc. The exhibition is from 1-7PM. Video made by artist Vincent Baumont. ...continue reading "HOANG MINH DUC: Video Projection of Performances"
This will take place from January 11-19, 2014 at Doclab in Hanoi, the place for experimental video in Vietnam. The director, Nguyen Trinh Thi, has put together this event which includes screening/workshop/performance/exhibitions to focus on art video in Vietnam. ...continue reading "Experimental Moving Image in Vietnam: Súp Video Soup"
No doubt the filmmakers of Wolf of Wall Street have researched extensively on Tom Vu, a Vietnamese immigrant who's made quite a name for himself on late night TV infomercial during the 80s. Vu's got character, charisma, confidence, energy, and a Vietnamese accent. ...continue reading "TOM VU: The Predecessor of The Wolf of Wall Street"