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December 2017 Vietnamese Cinema Vblog: Disaster Artist, Hong Chau, and The Propeller Group…

Hong Chau might be the first Vietnamese to win the Golden Globe for best supporting actress.

1) Trinh T. Minh Ha's Forgetting Vietnam asks us "what do we remember or know about Vietnam?"


Trinh T. Minh Ha's 2015 film Forgetting Vietnam screens at Tate Modern on December 1st, 2017. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is its recalling of an ancient myth on the creation of the country and its influence on the reality of Vietnamese society. The film also has interviews of local Vietnamese about remembering its history and its present geopolitical importance. Visually, the use of analog and digital video is to imply a progression from the old to the new. Forgetting Vietnam aims to revitalized the unspoken Vietnamese history and culture which are often numbed by the trauma of war and colonization.



2) Interview with Nguyen Trinh Thi: The need to have "no" answer


In a discussion with Jean Wong at Art Radar, Nguyen Trinh Thi talks about her open-ended process of filmmaking. Often, fueled by curiosity, she delves into a subject to negotiate how that would complement certain intrinsic property of the art of moving images. For example, the main theme in Letters from Panduranga is the power structures in everyday lives. The artist goes further by exploring her own power as a filmmaker that can represent other people.



3) The Propeller Group's AK-47 vs M16

The Propeller Group is known for provocative multi-platform experimental works. Using digital media as their platform, they exploit Vietnam's modern era fueled by pop culture and the proliferation of information by technology. Additionally, their call attention to eminent subjects to Vietnamese people such as their ancient custom, history, and nationalism. One example is in AK-47 vs M16, a feature film and an installation of bullets from AK-47 and M16 rifles suspended in blocks of gel. The viewers are spectators to a very tangible example of the timeless imperial violence from two opposing world powers- Russia vs USA. On Wednesday, February 7th, 2018, AK-47 vs. M16, the featured film, will be screened at Towne 3 Cinema in San Jose followed with panel discussion. The installation is being exhibited at Singapore Art Museum in their Cinerama program.



4) Hong Chau silence critics with Golden Globe nomination for Downsizing

Hong Chau migh be the first Vietnamese to win the Golden Globe for best supporting actress. The talented star of Alexander Payne's Downsizing talks to Indiewire about her journey to being cast in the movie. More importantly, she addresses the controversy surrounding her playing a stereotypical character with an accent and draws attention to the responsibility of portraying a disabled person. Follow the link below to read the full article.



5) The other lesser known winners in the 20th Vietnamese Film Festival

Although Jailbait made tons of money and nabs the top prize at the 20th Vietnamese Film Festival, let's show some love to the other lesser known winners at the event. In the animation category, The Mannequin (Cậu Bé Manocanh) took home the Golden Lotus award while The Fugitive won the silver prize. A Solution for Coastal Erosion and Growing Sperm for Infertility in Males both were honored as top scientific films. The best documentary award went to Nguyen Hoang Lam's Live and Tell. This year's festival is a huge success with young Vietnamese attendants. Next year, the festival will be held in Ba Ria, a city in the coastal province of Vung Tau.



6) Saigon, Anh Yeu Em wins jury prize at ASEAN CHINA film festival

The Vietnamese film Saigon, Anh Yeu Em, is one of the seven awarded the Special Jury Prize at ASEA-China. The film is a love poem to the city of Saigon (now renamed Ho Chi Minh City). Its plot revolves around multiple romantic stories that transcend race, gender, and age. ASEAN is an international film festival originated from South East Asia facilitating the promotion and cooperation of countries in the region. This year's festival was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.



7) The 5th Autumn Meeting 2017, another major cinematic event in Da Nang

In addition to hosting the biggest film festival in Vietnam this year, Da Nang is also home to another event that aims to shake up Vietnam's fledgling film industry. With over 100 international participants, the event showcases illustrious indie films from Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, and Vietnam. More importantly, it includes workshops to teach young filmmakers various aspects of filmmaking. With the involvement of world renown artists such as Tran Anh Hung, the meeting fosters a community of support for a rapidly growing independent cinema movement in Vietnam with a focus on artistic expression over mainstream commercialism. Notable Vietnamese films include Summer Fever Dream by Vietnamese director Tran Vi Chau and Thua Me Con Di (Mon, I Will Go) produced by a group of young filmmakers (Nhi Bui, Mai Ka, and Trinh Dinh Le Minh).



8) Another Disaster Artist: James Nguyen

Even if being called the worst director in movie history, the enigmatic but passionate James Nguyen is proud with the achievement of Birdemic: Shock and Terror, a film that has gained an unexpected feverish fan base since its released in 2010. Some even ranks Nguyen among the greatest worst filmmakers including Ed Wood and Tommy Wiseau, a status that he wholeheartedly embraces. What's really admirable is that these filmmakers are fearless and have lots of "passion". To make Birdemic, Nguyen works tirelessly. The one-man filmmaking machine funded it himself, wrote the script, did the camerawork, editing, and endure humiliation to promote it. Furthermore, beneath the surface of bad special effects, cheesy dialogues, and terrible acting, we see James Nguyen's autobiographical handprint in the form of a lonely character who dreams the American dream-falling in love and financial success. It's this kind of go all in aptitude that won James Nguyen countless fans. As for the haters, he can flip them the bird.


The Disaster Artist – a Review of the Best Movie About the Worst Movie


9) First Annual Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant Finalist: Quyên Nguyen-Le

The winner of the 1st Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant is Los Angeles filmmaker Fair Brane (Alyssa Johansson). The two runner-ups are Sasha Wortzel and Quyên Nguyen-Le, a queer Vietnamese-American experimental filmmaker. Her film Love Stinks has a clever premise about people who are romantically coupled according to their fruits. In Nuoc, her latest and most ambitious, Le illustrates how a queer Vietnamese-American struggles to understand where she comes from. The 6-minute short is a collage of shockingly surreal images portraying the crises of sexual and cultural identity.


10) Anthropcene: 7th Year of Science Film Festival in Vietnam for kids

What is Anthropcene? According to Wikipedia, it is an era where the action of human beings have drastically altered the earth. This is the topic at this year's Science Film Festival. The festival is organized by Wellspring Saigon International Billingual School, Goeth Institute, and THS Education Solution LTD. Co. The event includes screenings of over 300 science films made by young filmmakers worldwide as well as activities students participate in to learn about environmentally friendly technologies. Vietnam has been heavily polluted due to industrial transformation and recently plagued by numerous environmental disasters. The goal of the Science Film Festival is to raise awareness in primary students on the issue of environmental protection.


Students of Wellspring Saigon eagerly participated in Science Film Festival 2017


11) Le Thi Hiep, Vietnamese-American luminary, passed away at age 46

Lê Thị Hiệp, a celebratory Vietnamese American actress, has passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 46. She is survived by her husband and two children. Family and close friends remember her as a headstrong, independent, and exuberant petite woman. She is best known for the leading role in Oliver Stone's Heaven & Earth for which her performance garnered rave reviews. After that she's appeared on various television shows and films including a notable supporting role in Timothy Linh Bui's Green Dragon. Le was born in Vietnam and escaped the country by hiding in a boat with her little sister. They barely survived and re-united with their father in a refugee camp with the help of a church. Le channels her painful past experience to play the main character of Le Ly Hayslip in Heaven & Earth.

Besides acting, she is also a restaurateur who has opened several eateries in Los Angeles and took her culinary devotion further by appearing on Chopped, a competitive cooking show. An extraordinary life of a Vietnamese-American champion will forever be cherished and remembered.


Rest in Power, Hiep Thi Le

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