Current & Upcoming Films
Vietnamese Film Fest: Nguyen Trinh Thi Retrospective / Love Bang!
Vi?t Lê’s LOVE BANG! (2012 | Cambodia | music video | 5.5 min) is a sexperimental music video exploring the Southeast Asian popular culture scene with a fantastic vision of queer love. Lê’s sensational trilingual hip pop song (Vietnamese, Khmer and English) also reveals contradictions in modernity and memory of Southeast Asia’s fraught history of war and trauma. “Hip pop” is a fictitious cross between pop and hip hop. The disjunctured video features a queer, star-crossed, time-traveling war-time love triangle. Sounds complicated? Love is! Filmed in Cambodia, Lê collaborated with many talented artists to realize his retro sci-fi pop vision. Working during the summer of 2011 with Phnom-Penh based musician and music producer DJ Peanut, he recorded a new song which samples Fleetwood Mac’s Riahannon (1975) and the iconic Thanh Lanh’s Vietnamese and French rendition of Cher’s 1966 hit Bang Bang. Cambodian rapper RJ co-penned the Khmer rap lyrics and soulful singer Dollar sang the bittersweet hook. After several reworkings of the song, using different singers and numerous recordings in Peanut’s studio, they got the sound they wanted. LOVE BANG! is the first installment of a video/ photographic trilogy executed and exhibited in Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, and Los Angeles. These three global cities are contradictory characters, metaphors, and mirrors for the lovers. The project addresses the intersections of trauma, memory and modernity. The new songs pay tongue-in-cheek homage to Vietnamese and Cambodian tunes as well as Western pop songs, which are ever-present on the streets of the two countries. Introduced by the director, Vi?t Lê, who will also appear in the Q&A with Duc Nguyen and Tony Nguyen.
Chronicle of a Tape Recorded Over
Followed by a retrospective by Nguy?n Trinh Thi, a pioneer of Viêt Nam’s independent cinema, featuring LOVE MAN LOVE WOMAN, SPRING COMES WINTER AFTER, CHRONICLE OF A TAPE RECORDED OVER, and SONG TO THE FRONT (86 min total). In LOVE MAN LOVE WOMAN (2007 | Vi?t Nam | documentary | 52 min), through Master Luu Ngoc Duc, one of the most prominent spirit mediums in Hanoi, and his vibrant community, Trinh Thi explores how effeminate and gay men in homophobic Vietnam have traditionally found community and expression in the country’s popular Mother Goddess Religion, ??o M?u. Using footage from the public funeral of an important poet who was banned for decades in Vietnam, SPRING COMES WINTER AFTER (2008 | Vi?t Nam | experimental film | 4 min) is connected to the political and historical situation of the country, provoking some questions still impermissible to be asked publicly in present-day Vi?t Nam. What if one can play history in reverse and then replay it again? CHRONICLE OF A TAPE RECORDED OVER (2010 | Vi?t Nam | single-channel | 25 min) uses ‘exquisite corpse’, a method by which each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, as the filmmaker journeys over the Vi?t Nam War’s notorious H? Chí Minh Trail. Along once-contested roads, the filmmaker asked local villagers to contribute their tales while the camera was observing their present-day life, merging past with present, reality with fiction, in her effort to assemble a piece of collective history, a history told by the people from the bottom up. And SONG TO THE FRONT (2011 | Vi?t Nam | single-channel | 5.25 min) takes a historical Vietnamese war film from 1973 as its central source. Re-editing ‘Bai ca rat ran (Song to the Front)’, produced by the Vietnam Feature Film Studio and directed by Tran Dac, Trinh Thi has turned this rarely seen black and white classic feature into a small vignette that decomposes the aesthetic and romantic elements of this social-realist melodrama. At the core of her work, a progressive exploration of her personal vision, Nguy?n Trinh Thi pays attention to gestural details, to the expressive faces of people who expose themselves and emerge out of the backdrop of a chaotic world. Her gaze is silent, anxious, humanist.