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Vietnamese Films

  From: Khanh-Van Nguyen <Khanhvan@msu.edu>
  I am putting together a Vietnamese film series and have my heart set on  showing films from contemporary Vietnamese film makers.  However, I am having a difficult time finding any films besides the ones that have shown in the U.S (i.e. those from franco-vietnamese director Tran Anh  Hung : Scent of the Green Papaya, Cyclo, and Vertical Rays of the Sun and Vietnamese-American Tony Bui, Three Seasons and Green Dragon)  Although I am not adverse to showing films from the Vietnamese diaspora,   I would love to counter these with films from Vietnamese nationals like Dang Nhat Minh and/or films based on VN contemporary fiction (i.e The  General Retires and The Sawers both by dissident writer Nguyen Huy Thiep)   I have found mention of some films on the net but have not found information on where to purchase them.  Does anyone have any suggestions/recommendations?
  Khanh-Van Nguyen
  Outreach Coordinator, Asian Studies Center
  Michigan State University

  From: Susan Hammond [mailto:frdev@mindspring.com]
  Sent: Tue 05/20/03 14:47
  To: Vietnam Studies Group
  Subject: RE: H-Asia: Vietnamese Films
    Try contacting Gerry Herman (ghlotus@aol.com) of Discover Communications   who is based in Hanoi and just put the HCM City television mini series   Dat Phuong Nam (translated on the DVD set as Song of the South) on DVD  with optional English subtitles. The DVD series is 11 hours long and a TV mini series so would not likely be what you are looking for but Gerry  is working on getting Vietnamese feature films on DVD will good quality optional subtitles. I know he is working on releasing two Vietnamese feature films this year. He has told me that there are not a lot of  Vietnamese films available internationally and he is trying to amend  this situation. But he would know what films are available and how to  get them.
  I recently saw at the Museum of Natural History showing of the film The Deserted Valley from the director Pham Nhue Giang. The museum also  showed Dang Nhat Minh's The Season of Guavas in early April but I missed it. I know that it was hard to get permission to show the Deserted   Valley as the rights are owned by a Korean company and they have not yet sorted out the US distributor issues but Gerry helped the museum to  arrange for their showing. I am not sure how the museum got The Season  of Guavas but try contacting Ann Fitzgerald who has pulled together the AMNH program. Her email is afitz@amnh.org.
  One of the Vietnamese students at Columbia recently mentioned another film by a Vietnamese director, sorry the name slips my mind, that they  have a 30 mm copy of but they need a 30 mm projector and a venue in NY to show it. I can try to find out more info about it, at least the film name and the director. I am not sure if it is subtitled.
  Some of Pham Van Thuy's films were recently shown across the US when he  was here with the Joiner Center, but I do not know about rights for  showing his films elsewhere but Diane Fox who traveled with him for some  of the showings may know. 
  FYI the DVD set of Song of the South is available for a discounted price from FRD if any one is interested in a copy of the set let me know. Also  we are trying to put a list together on our website of Vietnamese films,  both Diaspora and Vietnamese directors as well as quality documentaries  with the information on how to get a hold of the films so if you have suggestions of films that should be included even if you do not know how to get a hold of them let me know.
  Lastly does anyone know who the author of the novel Dat Phuong Nam that the mini series is based on? The promo on the set compares the author to Dickens or Twain but does not mention the authors name.
  Susan Hammond
  Deputy Director
  Fund for Reconciliation and Development


From christopher.jenner@umb.edu Wed Jun 25 11:58:32 2003
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 12:24:04 -0400
From: Christopher Jenner <christopher.jenner@umb.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Vietnamese Films

Joiner Center is collaborating with SRV Ministry of Culture and Information (MoCI) on a long-term project to develop restoration, preservation and distribution of Vietnamese films. To better enable film distribution and study, production of a national documentary and feature database is one of the project's initial goals. I am presently working with MoCI and Vietnam's national film archives to that end. We plan to have completed this first stage by the end of 2004.

I shall shortly be contacting some VSG members directly regarding specific parts of this project and will notify the list in general when the documentary and feature filmography is ready for dissemination.

Please be kind enough to contact me if your institution is positioned to financially support film archive training (restoration, preservation and cataloguing) for Vietnamese archivists or production training (documentary and feature) for Vietnamese filmmakers. Donations of 35mm post-production equipment, such as Steenbecks, would also be welcome. 

Standard professional movie-film stocks are 16mm, 35mm and 70mm gauges. Aside from contemporary digital and video productions, Vietnam's documentary and feature films are shot on 35mm in b/w or color. I have been working with Vietnam's national film archives since 1995 but have not yet encountered a 30mm print. If memory serves, Columbia has film projectors for 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm and various screening facilities. Tran (not Pham) Van Thuy, who is working with us on the above project, recently showed three of his courageously revelatory documentaries to an enthralled audience at the university.

MoCI holds the international distribution rights to all Vietnam's nationally produced documentaries, feature films, and television programs. A few Vietnamese filmmakers have collaborated with overseas production companies, the distribution rights for these films were negotiated in accord with MoCI guidelines. The Vietnamese Constitution (1992) stipulates the State undertakes the overall administration of cultural activities, which is particularly so in the domain of mass media. A number of interesting collaborative projects are underway involving national and overseas Vietnamese filmmakers.

-- Christopher Jenner
C J Jenner
Vietnam National Film Archives Project
William Joiner Center

            From: smg7@cornell.edu [mailto:
            Sent: Tue 05/27/03 20:29
            To: Christopher Jenner
            Subject: Vietnamese films
      You wrote:
      >I shall shortly be contacting some VSG members
      >directly regarding specific parts of this project and
      >will notify the list in general when the documentary
      >and feature filmography is ready for dissemination.
      >Please be kind enough to contact me if your
      >institution is positioned to financially support film
      >archive training (restoration, preservation and

Dear Christopher:
      Your project sounds very worthwhile.  I can give you this brief advice. I don't know that there are any subscribers on the list associated w the UCLA Film & Television Archives, so I'm going ahead with this info. Back in 1989, the FTA sponsored a showing of ten Hanoi films, with the help of the Hanoi Film Factory, that it still has in secured media form in its archives.  I was one of the organizers of the festival that screened them.  While there is new administration at the FTA today, I believe that your project may find sympathetic ears.  You might avoid redundancy in importing some  films, in top quality shape, by trying to work w FTA. And of course they have huge amounts of material that  you might wish to send to VN.
         I can't recall the FTA director's name at that time, sorry.  Jeff somebody, who went on to become a significant figure at the Sundance Festival.  If you can reach him, I suspect you'd have an experienced hand willing to assist you.
      STeve Graw
From christopher.jenner@umb.edu Wed Jun 25 12:05:23 2003
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 11:52:57 -0400
From: Christopher Jenner <christopher.jenner@umb.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: FW: Vietnamese films

Dear Steve --
Thanks for your suggestion. We are indeed in contact with UCLA's FTA, in point of fact they have organized a few Vietnam focussed screenings since the 1989 show. I worked with UCLA film dept. and FTA in the 90s on four Vietnam documentary film projects.
We had not previously thought of aiming to facilitate study of American cinema in Vietnam, after all the project is already quite ambitious. However, I shall discuss your idea with our Vietnamese colleagues. Once the infrastructure is in place to distribute Vietnamese films for research and study in US it would certainly be feasible to piggy-back a similar supply line for America Studies departments in SRV. Notwithstanding, commercial American film products are presently widely available throughout Vietnam's cities. As you know, some argue to such an extent that the indigenous film industry and other cultural domains are significantly denuded. Whatever, impoverished American Studies departments in Vietnamese academia and government would likely appreciate access to a not-for-profit distribution system for American films. I will keep you posted.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

-- Christopher

Vietnam National Film Archives Project
William Joiner Center

From: VSG-owner@u.washington.edu [mailto:VSG-owner@u.washington.edu] On
Behalf Of hhtai@fas.harvard.edu
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 2:56 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group
Subject: A friend thought you might be interested in this article


hhtai@fas.harvard.edu thought you would be interested in this article from TIME.com:
TIME Asia Magazine Social Evil Sells -- May. 12, 2003 http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/article/0,13673,501030512-449518,00.html
Please note that sender's email address has not been verified. This message was sent as an FYI by a user of TIME.com.
Comments: See also article on young Vietnamese prostitutes in Cambodia on BBC Vietnamese language service.

For more stories, visit TIME.com: http://www.time.com
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From: Gino Paglaiccetti [mailto:paglaicc@hawaii.edu]
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2003 10:09 AM
To: Vietnam Studies Group
Subject: Bar girls

Has anyone seen 'Bar girls'? If so, what was your opinion of it?

University of Hawai'i

From m.digregorio@fordfound.org Wed Jun 25 12:08:58 2003
Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 23:11:48 -0700
From: Michael DiGregorio <m.digregorio@fordfound.org>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Bar girls

Dear All,

I saw Bar Girls as a guest of the Cinema Department.  The film is an attempt to produce something on the equivalent of "Philadelphia" but with an appeal to young people. As far as I am concerned, it does not succeed since it titillates without informing and relies heavily on stereotype.

There are also generational issues at stake.  As I was leaving the theater, I heard a middle --aged man tell his wife "That was nothing special."  I
think an older generation who is more accustomed to films that focus on the social issues that are part of their memories found this film empty.  At the same time, the vice director of the Cinema Department told me that real "bar girls" show up to see the film day after day.  From a brief scan of the taxis arriving at the national theater, I'd say she was right.

Regardless of its artistic merits, filmmakers are pleased.  First because it shows that Vietnamese have not abandoned cinema as an informational and entertainment venue.  Second, because they believe the film points out clearly to the Cinema Department that films that appeal to audiences can earn money. 

The film has reportedly earned roughly 1 million dollars.  For most of last spring, it was the number one date movie.


From: "Linda Yarr" <lyarr@gwu.edu>
To: "Vietnam Studies Group" <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2003 3:58 PM
Subject: Re: Pundit on Vietnamese movies?

Elizabeth Bowditch is somewhat knowledgeable about this subject. If not, she may know someone else in the field.  She can be reached at

Linda Yarr

> Quynh Le wrote:
> > Dear All,
> >
> > I would like to ask: In the academic field, is there someone who can talk about contemporary Vietnamese movies?
> >
> > Thank you,
> >
> > Le Quynh

From drummond@yorku.ca Mon Aug 25 13:20:30 2003
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2003 16:24:45 -0400
From: Lisa Drummond <drummond@yorku.ca>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Pundit on Vietnamese movies?

Pham Thu Thuy at ANU has recently co-written a piece with Dang Nhat Minh on Vietnamese film.  (It's in a book Mandy Thomas and I co-edited, Consuming Urban Culture in Contemporary Vietnam.)  She also has a piece on cinema in the book on mass media edited by David Marr.

Lisa Drummond

From DNguyen@KQED.org Mon Aug 25 13:21:11 2003
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2003 13:46:19 -0700
From: Nguyen Qui Duc <DNguyen@KQED.org>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Pundit on Vietnamese movies?

Maybe this will also be helpful

                 Copyright 2003 Financial Times Information
                            All rights reserved
              Global News Wire - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire
                     Copyright 2003 Vietnam News Briefs
                            Vietnam News Briefs

                               July 18, 2003

   LENGTH: 345 words
   A beautiful Vietnamese woman looks at herself in the mirror and tries  to hold back her tears. Behind her back, her husband watches her. They   are in the same room, yet worlds apart. The scene is from a new short  film, "Xuat Gia Tong Phu" (Getting Married and Devoting Oneself to  One's Husband), by promising director Le Bao Trung from Ho Chi Minh City. The 15-minute piece is one of more than 30 short films by young and veteran directors across the country sent to the National Short  Film Competition this year. 

Trung's film is based on the book of the same name by author Nguyen  Cong Hoan, about a woman who has to kill herself to save her dignity.  It depicts the feudalistic treatment of Vietnamese women in the 1930s. Trung said the work is his first short film, so he's eagerly awaiting  the response of judges and audiences. He has invested almost VND10 million ($ 650) to make "Xuat Gia Tong Phu" for the competition.   "Short films are a new phenomenon in Vietnam," Trung said. "I'm a  young director and I'd like to take on the challenge of making the  local film industry more professional."

More Vietnamese short films are on the way, thanks to recent competitions created by the Vietnam Cinematography Association and the   Vietnam Department of Cinematography.  With the encouragement of the competitions' organizers, prestigious film companies around the country, such as the HCM City Television Station's Film Company (TFS) and the Giai Phong (Liberation) Film Company, have lent facilities and human resources to the film-makers.  Up and coming TFS director Truong Minh Phuc has completed his film  "Tieng Hot Chim Chia Voi" (The Song of the Wagtail) for the competition. The film, a comedy, portrays the lives of farmers who  travel to the city to find a better life.  "I believe that audiences can learn some valuable things through my   film," said Phuc, who is one of Ho Chi Minh City's most popular  directors.

   The National Short Film Competition will be held at the end of August  in Hanoi.

From victor.alneng@socant.su.se Mon Aug 25 13:24:37 2003
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 08:39:52 +0200
From: Victor Alneng <victor.alneng@socant.su.se>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: RE: Pundit on Vietnamese movies?

Don't know of any pundits but coincidently this weeks Saigon Times Weekly features a six-page cover story on Vietnamese film making including an interview with Le Huynh, director of VNs first private film company. It is not yet on the Net (they tend to lag behind with around four weeks) but cineasts who cannot wait can drop me a note and I will send copies of the relevant pages. With a little luck it will quicker.


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