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November 2017 Vietnamese Cinema Vblog: Tran Anh Hung, Star Wars, Jailbait, Downsizing, and more…

Vietnam is mostly known for war, Pho noodle, and the elegant silk dress called "ao dai". Few are familiar with its contemporary art scene. The most respected group of Vietnamese artists is the Gang of Five,

A Film Festival Succumbs to Mainstream Taste

The Golden Lotus Award at the 20th Viet Nam Film Festival goes to Jailbait, an obnoxiously raunchy comedy that broke Vietnamese box office record. With the slogan "Building a Modern and Human Movie Industry", the festival celebrates the country's cinematographic department 65th anniversary. The weeklong event takes place in the port city of Da Nang from November 24-28th, 2017. One of its highlights is the screening of films for the ASEAN award. It aims to encourage collaboration between Southeast Asian countries to market their films to the world. Veterans and upcoming filmmakers along with international audience flock to a showcase of 16 feature films, 32 documentaries and scientific films, and 18 animations. There are seminars fostering open dialogues with government officials. They address issues including piracy, lack of funding, and the excess of low-quality movies permeating the industry. Will the Viet Nam Film Festival achieve its ultimate goals of encouraging production of cultural and historically relevant films, win over young audience, and compete in international markets?

Sources:

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/art-entertainment/190911/film-festival-begins-in-da-nang.html

http://vietnamnews.vn/life-style/418302/seminar-highlights-national-film-festival.html

http://vietnamnews.vn/life-style/418280/vn-asean-film-industries-struggle-for-global-exposure.html#5UoVfcFBvumtTgoy.97

Contemporary Art in Vietnam? Meet Gang of Five (Oct 21 - Nov 19, 2017)

Vietnam is mostly known for war, Pho noodle, and the elegant silk dress called "ao dai". Few are familiar with its contemporary art scene. The most respected group of Vietnamese artists is the Gang of Five, made up of Tran Luong, Pham Quang Vinh, Hong Viet Dung, Ha Tri Hieu, and Dang Xuan Hoa. They burst into the scene during the late 80s. Since then, their artistic outputs have been nurturing the heart and soul of Vietnam. The two exhibitions housed at the deteriorating Viet Nam Feature Film Studio and the more prestigious Art Vietnam Gallery showcase their past and present artworks. Over 700 people attended the opening of the retrospective. Although Vietnam's economy is thriving, there isn't substantial backing for arts to thrive in the country. For example, the Viet Nam Feature Film Studio, which has over the years produced many historically and culturally significant films, is being mismanaged and has turned into a decrepit storage building. According to Suzanne Letch, curator at Art Vietnam Gallery, contemporary arts in Vietnam is in a dire need of support in both exhibition and preservation. What do you think? Do Vietnamese people have time for art?

For any inquiry into Vietnamese contemporary arts, please contact Art Vietnam Gallery

Tel: 84 4 3862 3184 or 84 9 0475 1001

E-mail: info@artvietnamgallery.com

www.artvietnamgallery.com

Sources:

http://vietnamnews.vn/life-style/417295/contemporary-art-needs-home-of-its-own.html#2cpiMDEVUH43uWaP.97

https://wsimag.com/art/32455-gang-of-five-chancing-modern

https://www.facebook.com/events/271460743374898

https://wsimag.com/art/32455-gang-of-five-chancing-modern

Roommate for Queer Cinema in Vietnam

Roommate, a short film by Nguyen Hoang Le, is the first film made in Vietnam to be partially crowd-funded. The Ever Rolling Films production is about an existential encounter between two lonely men, an origami maker and an office worker. The film addresses common issues the queer community in Vietnam struggles with, such as isolation, depression, and identity crisis. Other critically and commercially successful high profile films with a similar theme include Lost in Paradise by Vu Ngoc Dang, Bar Boys by Le Hoang, and Big Father, Little Father by Phan Dang Nhi. Their triumph signals a potential for growth in Vietnamese cinema through telling diverse stories. As the film industry in Vietnam is slowly being liberated from being controlled by a Confucian-rooted government toward a more progressive atmosphere friendly to private commercial ventures, Vietnamese people who have been marginalized by society can be represented truthfully on screen.

Sources:

Inside the studio queering Vietnam’s film industry

https://www.facebook.com/dichvubancungphong/?hc_ref=ARQocvR_sXVZBcldkgbhz91XLJzFz0O_S-GyMl4fFy_NxUCFxi0oQNmGIDwMBdXyq3E

Bóng Eroticism in Queer Vietnamese Cinema by Nguyen Tan Hoang

Is Bui Thac Chuyen's Glorious Ashes Only for Festival Circus?

Tro Tàn Rực Rỡ (Glorious Ashes) by Vietnamese master filmmaker Bui Thac Chuyen won $15,000 at Busan Film Festival's promotional program called Asian Project Market. The platform supports Asian filmmakers by connecting them with investors. Glorious Ashes is based on two short stories by author Nguyen Ngoc Tu. The film takes place in Ca Mau, a southern province of the Mekong Delta region. The surreal story is about two women struggle to keep their relationship with their husbands. Through a series of deceit and jealousy, their passion literally bursts into flame. Bui Thac Chuyen is one of Vietnam's foremost auteurs. His short film Nigh Run won a prize at the Canne Film Festival in 2000. His feature film Living in Fear is one of the best Vietnam War movies I've ever seen and his erotic film Adrift is just tantalizing and hypnotic. The real question is what type of audience will Glorious Ashes find at home in Vietnam?

Sources"

https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/lifestyle/20171018/vietnams-glorious-ashes-wins-top-award-at-global-film-market/42140.html

http://apm.asianfilmmarket.org/eng/database/view_ppp_history.asp?order_year=2017&idx=52&no=8

Tran Anh Hung's Next Film

Transcendental filmmaker Tran Anh Hung will adapt Marcel Rouff's novel The Passionate Epicure to the screen for his next film. The Francocentric book follows a character named Dodin-Bouffant, a perfectionist when it comes to eating and drinking. Tran has just completed the script and is currently raising money for the film. Although the French-Vietnamese filmmaker has been making movies for over two decades, this is only his second French-language feature film; his first being the 2016 impressionistic Eternity. Will Tran's sensual directorial style make Dodin-Bouffant the perfect addition to a collection of masterful films about the five senses? Others are Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Conversation, and Claire's Knee.

Source:

Singapore: Tran Anh Hung Sets Gastronomy Film ‘Dodin-Bouffant’ (EXCLUSIVE)

The Heart of Lightness - Blood Road

In the documentary film Blood Road, endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch and professional Vietnamese cross-country cyclist Huyen Nguyen are the first to bike the 1200-mile long Ho Chi Minh Trail that goes through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The journey is a personal one for Rusch as her father disappeared 40 years ago while on a bombing mission over Laos. Rusch hopes to find his final resting place to put her mind at rest. For years, she and her family have been tormented by her father's whereabouts. The film portrays the everlasting casualty the war had on local Vietnamese as the two women witness remnants of the war such as unexploded ordinances. At the same time, Rusch and Nguyen both find common ground during the ride and able to heal from the tragic loss of the war.

Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/blood-road-documentary-combines-cycling-with-meaningful_us_5a1349d9e4b08b00ba6732f5

The Road to “Blood Road”

https://www.pinkbike.com/news/watch-now-rebecca-rusch-blood-road.html

Ngo Thanh Van's Film Leaked Online!

Ngo Thanh Van threatens to end her filmmaking career when a 19-year old Vietnamese man live streams her movie Co Ba Saigon (The Tailor).  The controversy gets out of hand when internet users needlessly accuse Van of "weaving" the scandal together herself as a publicity stunt. The Tailor is dubbed as Vietnam's The Devil Wears Prada and is about a family struggling to hold on to Vietnamese tradition during the outbreak of the Vietnam war. The film evokes the retro lifestyle of glamorous Vietnamese women living in Saigon at that time. Featuring some of the most iconic Vietnamese actresses and is directed by up and coming talented directors Loc Tran and Kay Nguyen. Under her banner VAA Studio, Van produced the lavish film in 3D with an attractive soundtrack from famous Vietnamese bands. It is reported that the piracy has already caused the film to lose over ten thousand USD. Piracy is widespread in Vietnam due to access to technology and lack of law enforcement. The Tailor isn't the only high profile film falling victim to these type of crimes. Jailbait and Kong: Skull Island have also been live streamed shortly after their releases in theaters. What do you think? Is this a publicity stunt by Van & CO or are Vietnamese irresponsible audience ruining other's fruit of labor?

Sources:

https://e.vnexpress.net/news/travel-life/culture-arts/vietnamese-movie-leak-a-question-of-poor-audience-attitude-or-just-a-pr-stunt-3670435.html

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/art-entertainment/190320/man-live-streams-film-from-cinema.html

More Star Wars Tidbits

Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Marie Tran looks toward her family's past connection to the Vietnam War for strength to play Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Along with Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Tran carries the mantle of representing Asians in Hollywood, which can be a tricky responsibility. Regardless, the actress is having a wonderful experience and is still infatuated with being part of the film production. While not being a Star Wars geek before being cast, Kelly is the perfect choice for the role due to her belief in remembering where you come from and just be yourself regardless of how others look at you. Currently, she's promoting the film with fellow Vietnamese actress Veronica Ngo in the traditional Vietnamese silk dress.

Source:

http://www.tnp.sg/entertainment/movies/kelly-marie-tran-cannot-believe-she-star-wars

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kelly-marie-tran-last-jedi_us_5a1f7557e4b0392a4ebb1cb5

Vietnamese Beauty, Tiana Alexandra-Silliphant Talks to KCRW Radio

Perhaps the most recognized celebrity in Hollywood of Vietnamese descent, Tiana Alexandria-Silliphant, has finally released her magnum opus The General and Me, a documentary on her 25-year relationship with controversial military figure Vo Nguyen Giap. In her film, Tiana uncovers some startling revelations about Vietnam's struggle for independence. Born in Saigon and immigrated to the US at an early age, Thi Thanh Nga takes on her American name Tiana-Alexandra and quickly immerses herself in the Hollywood scene. She is the first female student of Bruce Lee and is the wife of Oscar-winning writer/producer Sterling Silliphant. Her eclectic filmmaking career includes acting, writing, singing, producing, and directing. Most importantly, Tiana is well known in the community as a very proactive philanthropist and is very vocal about promoting Vietnamese culture.

Sources:

https://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/scheer-intelligence/tiana-alexandra-silliphant-the-general-and-me

Tiana Alexandra-Silliphant Wants to Make Vietnam Great Again (Audio)

Hong Chau Is A Cranky Asian Lady With a Prosthetic Leg In Downsizing

Hong Chau is en route to become the next break out Asian-American talent with her latest role in Alexander Payne's Downsizing, a satirical science fiction film about a government program that shrinks people smaller to combat overpopulation. In the film, volunteers are rewarded with a higher quality of life in their own miniaturized community. Chau plays Ngoc Lan, a grumpy house cleaner with a prosthetic leg who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Matt Damon's average Joe character. Regardless of a few prickle hecklers carping her character's broken English accent during the film's international festival screenings, early reviews praise Chau's performance as a career breakthrough. Born in New Orleans and studied drama in Boston Massachusetts, Chau claims to have been lucky in her career to be in movies by notable directors such as Paul Thomas Anderson and Alexander Payne.

Sources:

‘Downsizing’ MOVIE REVIEW: Alexander Payne Delivers One of the Year’s Best Films

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hollywoods-next-big-thing-downsizing-breakout-hong-chau-asian-typecasting-working-matt-damon-1034594

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-ca-mn-sneaks-hong-chau-20171103-story.html

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