Vietnamese Film Attracts Hollywood Through South Korean Support
Derek Nguyen's expertly paced horror film The Housemaid (Cô Haû Gaí) is getting an American remake. The screenplay will be written by Geoffrey Fletcher, the first African American who won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Lee Daniels's Precious. Distributed by CJ Entertainment, a South Korean company, The Housemaid takes place in the early 1950s during the French colonization of Vietnam. It's about a poor orphaned Vietnamese girl working at a French plantation and falling in love with the owner. Complication follows when the spirit of his dead wife comes to wreak havoc on their relationship. This might sound like a Blumhouse production but The Housemaid is not what it seems. The success of the movie is due to its building of dreaded tension using atmospheric settings. Derek Nguyen has associated producer credits on several American projects before going back to Vietnam to make The Housemaid. The American re-imagining will change settings from Vietnamese's violent history to African American's most painful past.
German-Vietnamese Filmmakers Showcase Films at Film Festival Cottbus
During the 2017 Film Festival Cottbus, a special section called FOCUS showcases films spotlighting the experience of Vietnamese guest workers in Eastern Germany. Each film portrays different struggle Vietnamese immigrants have to go through. In Hanoi Warsawa, a young Vietnamese woman is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma. The generational gap between newly-arrived and long-settled Vietnamese immigrants is examined in A Promised Rose Garden. Duzan Duong's Mat Goc (Lost Roots) is an MTV-styled docu-fiction on young Vietnamese living in Prague who are hesitant to re-connect with Vietnamese values. Andreas Stein, who manages the event, hopes to raise awareness and garner support for immigrants all over the world who live on the fringe of social and economic environments.
Maverick Filmmaker: Stephane Gauger
Stephane Gauger, a distinguished Vietnamese-American independent filmmaker, has passed away at the age of 48 in Saigon. Close friends in the film industry remember him as a genuine person who is willing to do the hard work to get a movie done. He's known for The Owl and The Sparrow, one of the best Vietnamese films. That movie has an uplifting and sincere story about human connection in Saigon. Technically, the film feels alive with urgency. Stephane is hugely influenced by the Dogma-95 and Cinema Verite practice of filmmaking which includes improvised acting, handheld camera work, non-professional actors, natural lighting, and authentic locations. In addition to fictional cinema, Stephane Gauger is also involved in several fascinating documentaries. In 2014, he directed one on Nelson Vails - the first African American who won a medal for cycling at the Olympics. One of the highlights of this film is that it doesn't talk much about racism. Therefore, the viewers see Vails as a great athlete that he truly is. The film also depicts the genuine and very competitive relationship between Vails and his teammate Mark Gorski. Nelson Vails's story is told as it is with no exaggeration. Stephane also edited another documentary on cycling called Cruzin' directed by Scott Nguyen. In Cruzin', former Olympic cyclist Tony Cruz, along with 14 other hardcore bikers, ride the grueling 1000 miles in Vietnam. Both films ultimately are about the human connection, the camaraderie, and the accomplishment that comes from team effort as a result of not only luck but of really hard work. Seeing it this way, cycling is pretty much the same as filmmaking - a very difficult endeavor that relies on good team dynamic and a lot of grinding.
Besides filmmaking, he helps raise fund for The Support of Orphans and Destitute Children in Vietnam (ASSORV). Donate to the organization following this link: http://www.assorv.com/
Furthermore, Stephane Gauger and Timothy Linh Bui recently comment on the state of Vietnamese cinema in a blog posted by Keely Burkey for City Pass Guide. https://www.citypassguide.com/en/travel/vietnam/blog/blog/heres-why-you-should-check-out-vietnamese-movies
Lana Condor Stars in To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Lana Condor is not shy, unlike Lara, the lead character she plays in "To All The Boys I've Loved Before", a film adaptation of Jenny Han's popular young adult novel. Born in Can Tho, Vietnam, Lana was adopted by American philanthropist couple Mary Carol and Robert Condor. The actress feels blessed every day for her parents being there for her. She hopes one day to give back and has already inspired Susan Johnson, director of the film, to donate fund in support of poor Vietnamese children to attend high school in Vietnam. The blossoming actress will star in Deadly Class, an action-packed TV series produced for the Syfy Channel. She next appears in Alita: Battle Angel directed by Robert Rodriguez set to be released on July 20, 2018.
Affluent Young Vietnamese Looking Through A Glass Darkly
Industry professionals at the 20th Viet Nam Film Festival in Da Nang were startled at the dark tone in the films of aspiring young filmmakers in Vietnam. Especially those whose families are quite well-off. Ngoc Diep, a columnist for Tuoi Tre News, pointed out that this pessimistic cinematic vision of fledgling filmmakers is the opposite of veterans, whose films are more positive. Many student films focus on characters who are suicidal and murderous as a result of depression and disconnection from society. For example, the short film The Call is about video game addiction. The hopeless lives of construction workers are depicted in Buffer Zone. Chu Anh Nguyet's Suckermouth tells the story of a lonely young girl with OCD. Regardless of what unredeemable behaviors these young and affluent filmmakers want to portray on screen, many veteran filmmakers support the freedom of young people to express themselves.
Việt Sử Kiêu Hùng (Vietnamese Epic History), First Animated Web Series On Vietnamese History
Finally, a comprehensive account of Vietnam's ancient history illustrated using impressive animation. Việt Sử Kiêu Hùng (Vietnamese Epic History) is a on-going free online animated web series about forgotten Vietnamese history dating back to antiquity. The research is based on multiple historical sources and records. They include "Dai Viet Complete History" by historian Ngo Si Lien and "Vietnam History" by scholar Tran Trong Kim. Creators of the series promise to enthrall young viewers with flashy animation, compelling stories, larger than life characters, and re-creating some of the deadliest battles that have defined the fate of Vietnamese people. They also stressed they won't be doing modern history. Who cares! If one is interested in modern history, watch Ken Burns's films. This is very exciting as we get to learn more about Vietnam. The project is on-going but the creators have already completed multiple episodes centering on The Battle of Da Nang.
Interested in supporting this animated series on Vietnamese History? Visit this crowdfunding page and donate!
In the meantime, head over to Face book or Youtube to see the first episode with English subtitles.
Zero Station: An Oasis For Arts in Ho Chi Minh City
"A place to play." Zero station is a contemporary art space fostering artistic interest of locals as well as global transients in Ho Chi Minh City. In the seminal series called Public Talks, they invite curators, artists, and industry luminaries to discuss the art scene locally and to inform about global views on Vietnamese arts. The venue also implemented the Asian In/Visible project to facilitate the collaboration between artists, curators, and venues in Southeast Asia. Their main goal is to strengthen the relationship between these entities.
You can watch some of the videos on the series at their youtube channel:
Sui Pham's 4th Film: A Shade of Paradise
Sui Pham, the director of Homostratus, is making her next film called A Shade of Paradise. The story is about two young siblings dealing with the loss of their family. Base on the film's Facebook page, the taglines are "You're still a virgin? Yes. Me too! It's normal at our age." One can only guess that Pham will take these characters into some very personal territory. The project held its casting call on January 20, 2018, searching for both professional and non-profession actors from 17-22 years old. This sounds incredibly fascinating since Homostratus is a mind-blowing work of art. Sui Pham is known for her unconventional and very innovative style of filmmaking. She currently lives and works in Vietnam.
Chau, Beyond The Lines: A Film That Heals The Heart
With the recent nomination of best short documentary for "Heaven Is A Traffic Jam on the 405" at the Academy Award, viewers look back to another film which profiles an artist's struggle. That film is Chau, Beyond The Lines, about the journey of a Vietnamese teenager who defies insurmountable odds to achieve his dream. What makes this an astounding film is the poignant and complete portrayal of Chau, the main character who suffers disabilities caused by Agent Orange. The filmmaker allows Chau to be himself. He's hopeful, and loves to do what regular teenagers do. Most importantly, the filmmakers took the time (8 years) to follow Chau on his rite of passage. At the end, the audience's good faith in life is validated by Chau's success. He develops into a talented artist and becoming independent. This is an incredibly powerfully moving film. You can watch both films online.
Follow the links:
Heaven is Traffic Jam on the 405
Chau, Beyond The Line
Write a letter to your member of congress to show support for Vietnamese affected by Agent Orange.
Veronica Ngo promotes Vietnamese history with Thần Đồng Đất Việt (Vietnamese Prodigies)
According to Viet Nam News Daily, Ngo Thanh Van (A.K.A. Veronica Ngo) has launched an initiative to produce a series of movies on Vietnamese myths. The series will be based on the comics of young artists from the Phan Thi Company. Each film will depict a popular event or character in Vietnamese most beloved fairy tales. Some of which include the story of the woodcutter Thach Sanh and the magical life of a saint named Thanh Giong. Ngo's previous film Tam Can: The Untold Story is popular in Vietnam based on a folktale. The actress/producer recently released Co Ba Saigon on Vietnamese fashion during the 50s.