Tiếng Việt | English
Viet Film Fest 2015 Successful in Showcasing Stories to Help Community Remember, as well as Move Forward
Falling on the 40th anniversary month of the Fall of Saigon, Viet Film Fest was notable this year in bringing together and celebrating the diverse stories of the Vietnamese community, past, present, and future. Over the course of April 16-19th, Viet Film Fest 2015 screened 31 films (10 features and 21 shorts) from Vietnam, Australia, Canada, Japan, Brazil, and the United States to more than 3,000 attendees at the UltraLuxe Cinemas in the Anaheim Gardenwalk. The festival, founded by the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association (VAALA), is intended to support Vietnamese voices in cinema all over the world.
Opening Night film, 2030 (Nước 2030), transported audiences to a submerged Vietnamese landscape in the not-too-distant future, and marked a homecoming for director, Nghiêm Minh Nguyễn-Võ, who debuted his first film, Crimson Wings, at the festival nearly a decade ago. Two box office films from Vietnam, Fool For Love 2 (Để Mai Tính 2) and Rise (Hương Ga) did equally as well in America, premiering to sell out shows during Viet Film Fest. The stars of both films, Thái Hòa (Fool for Love 2), Kim Ly (Rise), and Trương Ngọc Ánh (Rise) flew in from Vietnam to attend the special event and charmed audiences during the Q&A portions. The critically-acclaimed, Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (Đập Cánh Giữa Không Trung), closed out the festival and left audiences wanting more from first-time, female director, Nguyễn Hoàng Điệp.
Futhermore, in remembrance of the Fall of Saigon, the festival organizers resurrected Land of Sorrow (Đất Khổ) on the big screen, and gave a special Spotlight Award to the screenwriters of the film: Nhã Ca, Hà Thúc Như Hỷ, Trần Lê Nguyển and Phạm Viết Lịch. This 1973 film is a treasure that incorporates real footage of Hue during wartime and stars singer-songwriter, Trịnh Công Sơn, in his only cinematic role. A book signing and panel was held after the screening, where Nhã Ca signed a newly-translated version of her book, Mourning Headband for Hue (Giải Khăn Sô Cho Huế), upon which the movie is based.
Some other highlights of Viet Film Fest 2015 included the premiere films of participants in VAALA’s Youth-In-Motion workshop; book signing for Vietnamese in Orange County, by Linda Trinh Võ, Thúy Võ Đặng, and Trâm Lê; a mental health discussion in conjunction with the screening of Can; a filmmaking panel on the changing landscape of the Vietnamese cinema industry; and free community screenings that drew hundreds of local students and senior citizens.
Filmmakers at the festival included Nguyễn-Võ Nghiêm Minh (2030), Lê Văn Kiệt (Gentle), Charlie Nguyen (Fool for Love 2), Jimmy Pham Nghiem (Fool for Love 2), Dan Tran (Gentle), Hang Trinh (Hush), Lucia Ngo (Rise), Leon Le (Talking to My Mother), Vu Pham (My Brother), Nancy Bui (Master Hoa's Requiem), Bobby Vu (Revolver), Brian Tran (Insomnia), Vincent Tran (BatGirl Rises), Xuan Vu (Can), Pearl J. Park (Can), Cường Ngô (Rise), and Văn Phạm (Hush). Actress, Kiều Chinh (Hollow), and actor, Tien Phạm (Hush), were also in attendance.
This year’s festival received a mass amount of support from co-presenters/sponsors such as Wells Fargo, Macy’s, Southern California Edison, and Velvet Event Productions.
For anyone who missed the festival, or wishes to see their favorite short again, a select number of films will be available on Viet Film Fest Channel (www.vietfilmfestchannel.com). Please go on www.vietfilmfest.com for more information.
Viet Film Fest 2015 Award Winners
Grand-Jury Trống Đồng Award: Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (Đập Cánh Giữa Không Trung) directed by Nguyễn Hoàng Diệp
Spotlight Award: Land of Sorrow (Đất Khổ) directed by Hà Thúc Cần
Best Actress: Nguyễn Thanh Tú for her performance in Gentle (Dịu Dàng)
Best Actor: Thanh Duy for his performance in Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (Đập Cánh Giữa Không Trung)
Best Short Film: Talking to My Mother directed by Leon Le
Audience Choice for Best Feature Film: Can directed by Pearl J. Park
Audience Choice for Best Short Film: Master Hoa’s Requiem directed by Scott Edwards