The San Francisco Global Vietnamese Film Festival (April 26-28, 2013) is a biennial film and video showcase centering Vietnamese filmmakers in Việt Nam and the diaspora—reflecting the transnational nature of Vietnamese people today. The San Francisco Global Vietnamese Film Festival (SFGVFF) is the first and only festival of its kind in the Bay Area. With an Opening Night Gala ($10, 7:30-10pm, April 26) at Artists’ Television Access (992 Valencia St), featuring a night of music, mixing, mingling, and open mic, with short poetry readings by Việt Lê (director of Love Bang!), Genny Lim, Bonnie Kwong, and Paul Ocampo. After the kick-off party, the film festival itself runs from 2:30pm to midnight Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, 2013, at the historic Roxie Theater (3117 16th Street) in the Mission district of San Francisco. The festival expects over 2,000 attendees, and is proud to be part of the 16th annual United States of Asian America Festival (APICC/SFAC).
Over 20 films from all over the world—including Việt Nam, Cambodia, Canada, France, Japan, Czech Republic, and the United States—will be showcased at our two-day festival. This year, the SFGVFF features narrative, documentary, and experimental films and videos by Cuong Ngo (Pearls of the Far East), Đỗ Quốc Trung (On Duty With Shu Qi), Duc Nguyen (sneak preview of Stateless), Hong-An Troung (Adaptation Fever series), Leon Le (Dawn), Lin+Lam (Departure), Mark Tran (All About Dad), Nghiêm Quỳnh Trang (Un Interrogatoire), Nguyễn Đình Anh (Uncle & Son), a retrospective by Nguyễn Trinh Thi, Phương Thảo Trần and Swann Debus (With Or Without Me), Tony Nguyen (Enforcing The Silence), Trần Anh Hùng (Norwegian Wood), Trần Dũng Thanh Huy (16-30), Trần Ngọc Sáng (Go Playing With Ice), and Việt Lê (Love Bang!). The festival is pleased to feature introductory talks and Q&A discussion with filmmakers/directors Việt Lê, Duc Nguyen, and Tony Nguyen.
Each screening is $10, and may include multiple films or events. Tickets available at EventBrite.
Our festival is sponsored in part by Zellerbach Family Foundation, Diamond Patron Jerome Dodson, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, and San Francisco Arts Commission.
PROGRAM OF EVENTS
FRIDAY APRIL 26 — ARTISTS TELEVISION ACCESS —
Opening Night Gala
Doors open 7:30 pm
Doors close 10:00 pm
The biennial San Francisco Global Vietnamese Film Festival inaugurates, with a party, its 2013 showcase of filmmakers of Vietnamese descent from all over the world. The Opening Night Gala, held at Artists Television Access (992 Valencia Street in the Mission), offers you the chance to mix and mingle with filmmakers, film-lovers, spoken word performers, poets, and visual artists who’ve dropped by to celebrate northern California’s only Vietnamese-focused festival of films. Trailers for excellent films and videos playing over the next two days, at the nearby Roxie Theater, will be screened during the Opening Night Gala. The open mic invites Bay Area wordsmiths (of all persuasions) to read poems and perform spoken word, alongside short poetry readings by Việt Lê (director of Love Bang!), Genny Lim, Bonnie Kwong, and Paul Ocampo. Music and refreshments (including cognac, chocolates, and entrees) are provided by the festival’s host organization, Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network, whose aim is to promote Vietnamese artists from across the globe, including the generations born in the diaspora. Please drop by to celebrate their launch of the 2013 San Francisco Global Vietnamese Film Festival, because everyone loves a good beginning. The event is $10 but includes food, drink, and merriment, thanks in part to Opening Night Gala sponsors Martell Cognac, Le Colonial, Hodo Soy Beanery, Rau Om, Sugar Bowl Bakery, and 1000 Fine Events.
SATURDAY APRIL 27 — ROXIE THEATER —
Hong-An Truong — Adaptation Fever series | Lin + Lam — Departure
Doors open 2:25 pm
Introduction by Việt Lê 2:40 pm
Screening begins 2:45 pm
Screening ends 4:00 pm
Hong-An Troung’s ADAPTATION FEVER (2006-2007 | US | experimental video installation | 20 min) is a trilogy that both appropriates and disrupts the archive. ‘The Past is a Distant Colony,’ ‘A Story in the Process of Self-Alienation,’ ‘It’s True Because It’s Absurd,’ and ‘Explosions in the Sky’ were each constructed using found footage of Viet Nam during its French Indochina period, to explore questions about the politics of representation and the construction of difference in relation to history, time, and memory. The split screen and juxtaposition become a simple technique whereby the “real” and by extension, its historical referent, are permanently deferred objects, further diminished through the overdubbed narratives in Vietnamese and French which are only briefly summarized in English subtitles. Playing with the idea that nostalgia can be evoked without memory or experience, and also by the co-dependent relationship between the West’s present and the Other’s desire for that present, this video appropriates archival images as a way to consider translation, postcolonial subjectivity, and sentimentality. With an introduction by Việt Lê, curator and director of LOVE BANG! (screening later at 4:30.)
After that, Lin+Lam’s DEPARTURE (2004 | US | video essay | 48 min) considers modernization and foreign intervention, through transportation methods. Shot from the exploratory perspective of moving car, cycle, and trains, the video travels through three former colonial Asian cities: Taipei, Shanghai, and Hanoi. In recognition of language hierarchies and the politics of translation, five women narrate interrelated histories of urban environments under transformation, in their native languages—Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, English, Shanghainese, and Vietnamese.
Việt Lê — Love Bang! | Nguyễn Trinh Thi — Retrospective
Doors open 4:15 pm
Screening begins 4:30 pm
Screening ends 5:45 pm
Việt 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, Việt Lê, who will also appear in the Q&A with Duc Nguyen and Tony Nguyen.
Followed by a retrospective by Nguyễn 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 | Việt 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, Đạo Mẫu. Using footage from the public funeral of an important poet who was banned for decades in Vietnam, SPRING COMES WINTER AFTER (2008 | Việt 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 Việt Nam. What if one can play history in reverse and then replay it again? CHRONICLE OF A TAPE RECORDED OVER (2010 | Việt 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 Việt Nam War’s notorious Hồ 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 | Việt 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, Nguyễn 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.
Tony Nguyen — Enforcing the Silence | Q&A with Việt Lê, Duc Nguyen, and Tony Nguyen
Doors open 6:10 pm
Director’s introduction 6:25 pm
Screening begins 6:30 pm
Q&A 7:30 pm
Ends 9:00 pm
Tony Nguyen’s ENFORCING THE SILENCE (2011 | US | documentary | 60 min) speculates upon the unsolved 1981 murder of Lam Duong, who once founded the Vietnamese Youth Development Center in San Francisco and published a liberal newspaper that reprinted stories from communist Việt Nam following the Việt Nam War. On July 21, 1981, the 27-year-old was shot dead outside his apartment. Local police have never convicted his murderer(s). Yet within days of Lam’s murder, news spread that a shadowy, anti-Communist group had claimed responsibility, sending a chilling message to Vietnamese refugees everywhere—stay in line with your political views or risk death. Between 1982 and 1990, five more Vietnamese Americans—four of them journalists—were violently killed, many believe for political reasons. Vietnamese journalists are the largest group of immigrant journalists murdered on U.S. soil, claiming five lives out of the ten immigrant journalists killed in America since 1981. All the Vietnamese murders were linked to a terrorist group in the Vietnamese American community, but police and federal officials have yet to solve any of the cases, including Lam’s. Thirty years later, new filmmaker Tony Nguyen unlocks the mystery of Lam Duong’s life and death, and uncovers truths that Vietnamese Americans have never publicly explored. For the first time on film, Lam’s loved ones, federal investigators, and present-day journalists speak out about their experiences and reveal the risks that Vietnamese Americans have faced for exercising their first amendment rights in the U.S. Mixing personal interviews with startling historical and present-day footage, ENFORCING THE SILENCE provides a disturbing in-depth look at a war-torn community that continues to struggle to find its place in a democratic society. As the U.S. finds itself entrenched in conflicts in the Middle East, this film offers fresh insight into the long-term costs of war.
This screening includes a panel/Q&A with filmmakers/directors Tony Nguyen, Duc Nguyen of STATELESS, and Việt Lê of LOVE BANG!
Trần Anh Hùng — Norwegian Wood — Opening Night Feature
Doors open 9:15 pm
Screening begins 9:30 pm
Screening ends 11:45 pm
Trần Anh Hùng’s NORWEGIAN WOOD (2010 | Japan | drama, romance | 133 min) illustrates Toru Watanabe’s deeply conflicting emotions during an already volatile time of global instability, set in late-1960s Tokyo. Students around the world were uniting to overthrow the establishment and Toru Watanabe’s personal life was similarly in tumult. At heart, he was devoted to his first love, beautiful and introspective Naoko, a bond forged by the long-ago tragic death of their friend. Watanabe lived with the influence of death, until an outgoing, vivacious, supremely self-confident girl, Midori, entered his life, forcing him to choose. Based on the bestselling novel by Haruki Murakami, this film ultimately concerns a young university student’s encounters with love, death, and loss in 1960s Japan, as he is torn between his desires for two very different women. Filmmakers hoping to adapt the celebrated novel repeatedly approached the reclusive Murakami, who refused to permit an adaptation until asked by acclaimed Vietnamese-French director Trần Anh Hùng (CYCLO, THE SCENT OF GREEN PAPAYA, VERTICAL RAY OF THE SUN.)
SUNDAY APRIL 28 — ROXIE THEATER —
Duc Nguyen— Stateless
Doors open 2:30 pm
Director’s Introduction 2:45 pm
Screening begins 2:50 pm
Screening ends 3:50 pm
Duc Nguyen’s STATELESS (US, Philippines | 2012 | documentary | 57 min) follows Vietnamese refugeees stranded in the Philippines for nearly two decades after the closure of refugee camps. Caught at the low tide of compassion fatigue by the international community, evidenced by the closure of refugee camps in Southeast Asia, the refuges found themselves without a home country. The arriving asylum seekers were forced to repatriate to their origin countries. These particular group of Vietnamese refused to return. Thus, they survived on borrowed land and carved out an existence on the fringe of society. Without legal rights, they could not be employed, own properties or conduct business in the Philippines. In 2005, U.S. immigration officials returned to Manila to look into their cases. STATELESS depicts the tribulation of the unwanted refugees who survived on a glimpse of hope to find a home. It reveals the struggle and resiliency of the asylum seekers as they patiently hang on to the dream of a permanent home. Heart wrenching and inspiring, their stories demonstrate the will to sacrifice almost everything to gain the right to be called a citizen. This is a sneak preview screening, just ahead of full completion of the film. Filmmaker/director Duc Nguyen will be present for a director’s introduction, after appearing on Saturday April 27 (7:30pm) for the filmmaker/director Q&A with Việt Lê of LOVE BANG! and Tony Nguyen of ENFORCING THE SILENCE.
Phương Thảo Trần & Swann Dubus — With or Without Me
Doors open 4:00 pm
Screening begins 4:15 pm
Screening ends 5:30 pm
Phương Thảo Trần and Swann Dubus’s documentary WITH OR WITHOUT ME/ TRONG HAY NGOAI TAY EM (2011 | Việt Nam | documentary | 80min) is an intimate and sensitive portrayal of two heroin addicts strung out at the edge of the map of Điện Biên province. Thi and Trung live in the lush, rice-terraced mountains of Việt Nam’s far northwest. Like many young men living on the main heroin route from Laos to China, however, they’re both addicts who’ve contracted HIV from sharing dirty needles. Both struggle with addiction and illness throughout the film, as they wrestle with the possibilities of living or dying. WITH OR WITHOUT ME was made with the support of Medical Committee Netherlands Vietnam (MCNV). The film has screened at film festivals in Germany and Italy.
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Cuong Ngo — Pearls of the Far East
Doors open 5:45 pm
Screening begins 6:00 pm
Screening ends 7:45 pm
Cuong Ngo’s PEARLS OF THE FAR EAST (Canada, Việt Nam | 2011 | drama | 103 min) threads the inner lives and forbidden loves of seven Vietnamese women, with breathtaking scenes filmed throughout Việt Nam. Adapted from award-winning stories by Minh Ngoc Nguyen, produced by award-winning filmmakers Igor Szczurko & Tom Yarith Ker, Cuong Ngo weaves a vivid, timeless and unforgettable tapestry with characters brought to life by a gorgeous cast of acclaimed talent from Việt Nam, U.S. and Canada. Seven interrelated short films depict women who are unable to attain love, focusing on their feelings of loneliness and unrequited sense of longing. The film crosses generations, reflecting the different stages of love, beginning with a pair of children and ending with a lonely retired actress. Ngo draws attention to women in Việt Nam and their emotional battles with desire and repression. The star-studded cast includes actresses Truong Ngoc Anh (THE WHITE SILK DRESS, 2006), Nhu Quynh (VERTICAL RAY OF THE SUN, 2000), Hong Anh (MOON AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL, 2009), Ngo Thanh Van (THE CLASH, 2010, THE REBEL, 2007), Minh Ngoc Nguyen, and the legendary Kieu Chinh (JOY LUCK CLUB, 1993).
Various Yxine Filmmakers — Best of Yxine Film Festival — Five Shorts
Doors open 8:00 pm
Screening begins 8:15 pm
Screening ends 9:35 pm
From the Best of Yxine Film Festival! Nguyễn Đình Anh‘s UNCLE & SON (2012 | Việt Nam | drama | 15 min) shows a boy’s tragic decision to bring a better life to his uncle, with unforeseen consequences. The film is full of emotions, typical of the folklore of Southern Vietnam. It also invites thinking about social prejudice and lack of empathy for humans who are different. Nghiêm Quỳnh Trang’s UN INTERROGATOIRE (2011 | Czech, France, Việt Nam | psychological drama | 15.5 min) uses flashback to show the memories, deceptions, and realities underlying a young newlywed Vietnamese student’s residency permit interview in France, after she marries a young Frenchman. The filmmaker gradually leads viewers into Minh’s puzzling and troubled inner world. Đỗ Quốc Trung’s ON DUTY WITH SHU QI (2012 | Việt Nam | drama | 22 min) addresses the sexual awakenings of teens in a straightforward manner. These initial contacts, whether surprising or daring, honest or cheeky, are only the foundation for two lonely individuals—a weird guy and an infamous hot girl in high school—to find their way to each other, in defiance of everything. Trần Ngọc Sáng’s GO PLAYING WITH ICE (2011 | Việt Nam | drama | 11.5 min) revolves around three generations of ice deliverers, within the engaging landscape of the south. The film also poses several questions regarding the role of passion at work – one thing that is gradually fading away in the feverish urbanization of a changing city. Trần Dũng Thanh Huy’s 16-30 (2012 | Việt Nam | action | 17 min) follows young boys selling betting results—16:30 is not only their starting time for work, it is the time TV stations broadcast lotto results.
Leon Le — Dawn | Mark Tran — All About Dad | Closing Night Short & Feature
Doors Open 9:50 pm
Screening begins 10:05 pm
Screening ends 11:20 pm
Leon Le’s DAWN (2012 | US | drama | 10 min) depicts two prejudiced presumptuous strangers, with much in common. After Tye perceives a racist glance from another passenger on the commuter train, a confrontation ensues. While disputing their differences, Tye discovers that what they share in common is actually what angers him the most. Both are forced to directly face their presumptions of each other and through the experience are left with a greater sense of the interconnectedness of human beings. DAWN won three important awards at the Yxine Film Fest (YxineFF) 2012, including the “Golden Heart” prize for best film in the international competition category, “Best Directing,” and a “Rainbow Heart” as the best feature on LGBT issues.
Mr. Do has raised his kids to be good Catholics and to live up to his unrealistic expectations, in Mark Tran’s ALL ABOUT DAD (2009 | US | drama | 80 min). His son Ty is abandoning pre-med to chase a less practical dream, while Linh is keeping her fiancé’s Buddhist background a secret. However, they aren’t the only kids with secrets in the Do family. It’s time Dad faces the truth that his children have grown up. Delightfully hilarious, yet mixed with great tenderness and humanism, ALL ABOUT DAD addresses the familiar theme of old world father vs. new world kids with deftness and originality.