LOS ANGELES (April 15, 2015) — The Viet Film Festival will be held April 16-19, 2015 at UltraLuxe Anaheim Cinemas, 321 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim CA 92802. Opening night kicks off with 2030 (Nước 2030) at 7pm with Directory Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo available after the screening for Q&A.
As the largest international Vietnamese film festival in the world, Viet Film Fest showcases the best creative work by and about Vietnamese people. These aAward-winning films have been screened in numerous cities and countries.
Viet Film Fest was created in 2003 by the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) to celebrate the many stories about Vietnamese people. Now running successfully for over a decade, the festival has attracted thousands of national and international attention for its stunning showcase of shorts and features submitted from many corners of the world, including Australia, Cambodia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, United Kingdom, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
The UCLA Asian American Studies Center is proud to be a Community Partner of VIFF and the following films:
Feature Film: CAN
11:00 am | Sunday – April 19
USA / Documentary / 65 min
Director: Pearl J. Park
Synopsis by Duc Nguyen:
“Can” follows a Vietnamese American man who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The film documents how Can Truong was an overachiever in high school. With the intention of going to medical school, he wanted to make his dad proud and become a doctor. However, his mental illness forced him out of the University of Chicago in his junior year.
The film shows that Can’s story is common for many Vietnamese Americans but that addressing mental illness in the Vietnamese American community is difficult because it remains a taboo subject. Originally, Korean American director Pearl Park hoped to document the lives of three Asian American subjects with mental illness and their families. However, finding people who would agree to disclose their mental disabilities to a mass audience proved difficult. So Park decided to focus on Can Truong, who was known for his advocacy work in the field of healthcare.
As a “consumer,” one who lives with mental illness and advocates for better healthcare, Can has spoken at numerous national mental health conferences and talked openly about obtaining his college degree, despite his mental disabilities. As Park explains, “[Can has] defied many cultural norms by speaking publicly about living with bipolar disorder and by teaching consumers how to get accommodations in college through the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”
Can is a breakthrough documentary, as it allows us to witness the pain, struggles and challenges of a person who lives with mental illness. The film is also inspiring in opening up a crucial conversation about mental illness in our communities. As the filmmaker has stated, “By dispelling the taboo power of mental illness, we hope to dissipate the denial and shame surrounding the subject. We want to improve the quality of public discourse about the subject of mental illness, and step up the ensuing search for answers.”
Feature Film: Gentle (Dịu Dàng)
2:00 pm | Sunday – April 19
Vietnam / Drama / 98 min
Director: Le-Van Kiet
Synopsis by: DuyAnh Ton (translated by Hao-Nhien Q. Vu)
Based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short story, “A Gentle Creature,” Gentle peers into the lives of a pawnbroker and a young girl whose mysterious suicide begins the movie.
Director Le-Van Kiet (of the noted films Dust of Life, Sad Fish, and House in the Alley) updates Dostoyevsky’s tale with a meticulous eye for mood and detail. We are transferred from 19th century Russia to contemporary Vietnam and presented with Thiện (Dustin Tri Nguyen), a pawnbroker who meets and marries Linh (Nguyễn Thanh Tú).
He first encounters Linh, a bold and religious young woman, when she tries to pawn her worthless goods at her store. Thiện eventually becomes obsessed with her, and as he learns more about how she lives in poverty with her two aunts and their nine children, he is increasingly determined to marry her.
Linh weds Thiện to escape destitution, but the marriage quickly deteriorates. Their marital problems are heightened because of the fact that Thiện is middle-aged as well as highly sensitive, possessive, and jealous. As with the short story, we are made to ponder what the stakes are, finally, for Thiện and his pursuit of Linh, and the answer lies in the way in which the story is told.
Here the details of Le’s talented directing matter. The film’s slow pace is as gentle as the story’s name, and its simple realistic images create a suspenseful ambiance. The film’s sharp, terse dialogue is delivered with natural ease by the actors Bích Hằng (as Xuan) and Hồng Thi and Kiều Trinh (as the two aunts). In all, Gentle makes a strong impact on viewers with its harrowing tale about money and power. It is a sure success for its director and crew.