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"