Three Vietnamese films will be presented at the British Film Institute’s annual London Film Festival, on October 7-18.
The films are short film Mui Huong Nuoc Mam (The Scent of Fish Sauce) by Trinh Dinh Le Minh; motion-picture Dap Canh Giua Khong Trung (Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere) by Nguyen Hoang Diep; and documentary Live From New York by overseas Vietnamese documentarian Bao Nguyen.
The short film The Scent of Fish Sauce is about fish sauce, lust, connection, possession and love. Mai, a Vietnamese nurse, is hired to attend to an injured American man. After turning him on to the secret pleasures of Vietnamese cooking, Mai’s dreams of romance take a strange turn.
The film is Minh’s thesis for his filmmaking degree from the University of Texas in Austin.
“Not everyone enjoys fish sauce, the most important condiment and a symbol of Vietnamese cuisine,” Minh said. As a foreigner living in the US, Minh senses a gap between what he can share and what people understand.
Inspired by his cooking experiences, Minh wrote The Scent of Fish Sauce. Employing fish sauce as a symbol of cultural clash and desire, the film depicts how two separate, distinctive cultures can harmonise without compromising the essential aspects of each.
“It is difficult to present a film at a major film festival like the London Film Festival because some 2,000-3,000 short films from around the world are usually sent to these festivals,” filmmaker Minh said. “It is also important for me to eventually make a feature film.”
Minh’s 23-minute-long film competed for the Bucheon Choice for the short film category at the 19th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in July.
Minh is an emerging Vietnamese filmmaker. After publishing two cinematic books and making My Apartment Block and Where Does the Wind Blow, which were shown at several film festivals including the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s New Voices from Vietnam programme, he received a Fulbright scholarship to pursue an MFA in Film Production at the University of Texas in Austin. He is an alumni of the prestigious Berlinale Talents and Tokyo Talents.
The Scent of Fish Sauce will be screened on October 15 and 17 for the Films in Love and Devotion programme.
Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere, meanwhile, is the first feature created by Diep. The movie is a lyrical, enigmatic portrait of a young woman at the crossroads of her life. She is confronted by the struggle to make a decision involving her body as she grapples with the confusing nature of love and lust.
The film won international awards including the 2014 Venice International Film Critic’s Week. It also won the awards for Best Director at the 16th International Film Festival Bratislava in Slovakia and Special Prize at the 3rd Hanoi International Film Festival (HANIFF).
It will be screened on October 17 and 18 for the Films in Dare programme.
The documentary Live From New York! was inspired by filmmaker Bao Nguyen’s love of the comedy show Saturday Night Live, which ran for 40 years in the US. Filmmaker Bao Nguyen lives in New York.
The documentary will be shown on October 10 and 11 for the Films in Laugh programme. It was screened at the opening ceremony of the Tribeca Independent Film Festival.
The 59th London Film Festival will feature some 238 films from 57 countries and territories.-VNA