Vietnam film among surprise winners at Bangkok festival
14:11′ 27/02/2006 (GMT+7)

Vietnamese film Bride of Silence by the brother-and-sister team of Doan Minh Phuong and Doan Thanh Nghia won best film in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian nations) category at the Bangkok International Film Festival, which presented awards on Saturday.

The problem-plagued Water won the Best Film award at the Bangkok International Film Festival last Friday.

“This was a total surprise. Vietnamese films have not been recognised before like this,” an emotional Phuong said.

Meanwhile, Indian-born director Deepa Mehta was also celebrating on Saturday after her problem-plagued film Water finally found its way to success, winning best film at the festival.

Water, which focuses on the plight of castigated widows in Gandhi-era India, was nearly abandoned by Mehta after protests by Hindu extremists halted filming and then became the centre of a bitter tug-of-war at the festival.

The director received death threats and was forced to shelve the movie in 2000 after Indian authorities shut down filming amid protests by Hindu extremists. She finally shot the film in Sri Lanka five years later.

In Bangkok, organisers said a Thai studio had tried to pull Water from the competition as part of a boycott of the festival being staged by the nation’s film industry group which claims it was not properly consulted over the event.

But Mehta insisted the film be shown and produced a contract giving her rights to show Water at any festival, the event’s director Craig Prater said.

A jury led by Australian director Fred Schepisi awarded the prize which Princess Ubol Ratana of Thailand presented to Mehta and Canadian David Hamilton at a star-studded awards ceremony in the capital late last Friday.

Water has already proved a smash hit in Canada, where Mehta now lives, having opened five film festivals and grossed almost US$2mil at the Canadian box office since November.

South Korea’s Park Chan-wook last Friday won his second successive best director award at the festival for his mystery thriller Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. He shared the directing prize last year for Old Boy which also won him the 2004 Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 2004.

The Golden Kinnaree awards – named after a half-woman, half-bird mythical Thai creature – are not considered among the most prestigious in the movie world, but last year’s big winner, Spanish movie. The Sea Inside, went on to win the Oscar for best foreign-language film the following month.

The only entry in this year’s competition to be nominated as best foreign film at next month’s Academy Awards is Tsotsi, which won a best actor award for 21-year-old South African actor Presley Chweneyagae, who plays a thug living in a township near Johannesburg.

Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman, meanwhile, won best actress for her role as a pre-operative transsexual in Transamerica, a performance that also has her in the running for an Oscar next month.

Some 15 Golden Kinnarees were handed out at the red carpet event which included Hollywood actors Christopher Lee and Willem Dafoe.

French screen icon Catherine Deneuve was presented with a career achievement award, while Wouter Barendrecht and Michael J. Wemer’s company Fortissimo Films received a Golden Kinnaree for contribution to Asian cinema.

Veteran Thai action star and stunt man Sombat Metanee also received an honourary award.

Bangkok is one of the newest yet most lavish and controversial film festivals in the industry’s calendar.

The festival closes today with Rent, based on the musical that focuses on poverty, illness and AIDS.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

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Press Release Source: MultiCultural Media Expo

MultiCultural Media Expo Announces 2006 Media Award Winners
Monday February 27, 3:21 pm ET

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ — Following a two-day conference and the opening of the expo floor, the MultiCultural Media Expo announced today its first annual award winners at a ceremony sponsored by Microsoft at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The media awards recognize companies and individuals that demonstrated excellence and dedication during Expo presentations and exhibits.”Participants heard from more than 40 high quality speakers during two intense days of discussion and experienced first hand a variety of concepts on the show floor,” said David Takata, MultiCultural Media Expo president. “The 2006 MultiCultural Expo Media Award winners are true leaders in every respect and we are proud to be associated with them.”

Outstanding Conference Presentation Awards were selected by audience participants. Winners included Michele Azan of Terra Networks for Research; Deborah Gray-Young for Multicultural Ad Agency; Gwendolyn Kelly of American Family Insurance for Multicultural Advertiser; Shawn Marshall of the Radio Advertising Bureau for Association Representative; Fernando Espuelas of VOY Group for Multicultural Internet; Edward Schumacher Matos of Rumbo for Multicultural Publishing; Reginald Denson of Clear Channel Katz Advantage for Multicultural Radio; and Joseph Schramm of Schramm Sports & Entertainment for Outstanding Conference Moderator.

Best Expo Floor Display Awards were selected by a group of judges who were looking for excellence in promoting their form of media or service. The winners included Mobile Vision Marketing for Advertising; Los Kitos for Internet; del Rey Marketing for Media Services; Border Media Partners for Radio Station(s); VOY Group for Start-Up Company; LATV for Television; Rumbo for Publishing; and RealTalk LA for Best of Show.

Chairman Awards were presented to visionary firms and individuals advancing business in the multicultural media markets. They included ImpreMedia for Visionary Print Media; Discovery Networks for Visionary Company in Television; ESPN Deportes for Leadership in Multicultural Media; Microsoft for Visionary Firm in Technology; and Ernest Bromley for Industry Visionary. In addition, two special awards were presented to Radio Advertising Bureau for Association Partner of the Year; and the Adweek Magazines for Partner of the Year.

Added Takata, “The show surpassed many of our greatest expectations and the competition for this year’s awards reflects our belief that if we set high standards, conference and expo participants would rise to the occasion.”

About the Expo

MultiCultural Media Expo 2006 was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from February 22-24, 2006. Industry presentations include a panel presented by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and participation from the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), Asian-American Advertising Federation (3AF), and the Globalization & Localization Association (GALA) member firms.

Companies participating in the conference and expo include Adweek, AIM Tell-A-Vision, Arbitron, AZN Television, Border Media Partners, Brandweek, Bromley Communications, CNN en Espanol, Club Deportivo Chivas USA, Comcast, Discovery Communications, Elephant Advertising, en Espanol, ESPN Deportes, Firestone Communications, IHEARU Wireless, ImpreMedia, Interep, IW Group, Los Angeles Galaxy, Latin Force, LATINTHRE3, LatinVision, LATV, Marketing y Medios, Mediaweek, Meredith, Microsoft, Mobile Vision Marketing, MTV, Nielsen Media Research, Oxygen Media, Portada, Rumbo, Schramm Sports & Entertainment, Si TV, Terra Networks, Turner Broadcasting, Univision Radio, Urban America Television, Veranda Entertainment, and VOY Group.

Information about the show is at http://www.mcmexpo.com

MEDIA CONTACT: Ivan Cevallos
PHONE: 323.785.2510/ Cell: 626.374.6819
E-MAIL: icevallos@ethosege.com

EVENT CONTACT: David Takata
PHONE:  949.474.2110/ Cell: 949.683.5789
E-MAIL: davidt@mcmexpo.com

Overseas project to teach Vietnamese language, culture

Dictation: A Vietnamese teacher in Germany instructs her students in the Vietnamese language. — VNS File Photo

(26-02-2006)

A new project by the Ministry of Education and Training aims to help overseas Vietnamese master their native language. Trieu An reports.

Teaching Vietnamese to their two children no longer falls on the shoulders of Le Xuan Vinh and his wife, who have been living in Munich, Germany since 1987.

Vinh said his family was overjoyed when the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training’s programme for teaching Vietnamese to Vietnamese people living abroad kicked off recently.

“Most Vietnamese people living in foreign countries expect their offspring to speak Vietnamese fluently and understand the culture of the mother country,” Vinh said.

He said teaching language only by oral transmission has given the young, third or fourth generation Viet kieu (overseas Vietnamese) an incomplete understanding about Vietnamese language and culture.

Language demand

Many Vietnamese people living in countries with a large, established Viet kieu or Vietnamese-community, including France, the United States, Russia, Australia and Thailand, have shown their devotion to Viet Nam by returning to help develop the country, and also by contributing money.

But an emerging problem among many third or fourth generation Viet kieu is they lack knowledge about the culture of their native country and many cannot read or write Vietnamese fluently.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education and Training, there were approximately 300,000 Vietnamese living in France, mainly in Paris, Marseille and Lyon. Of that group, the percentage of people whose parents were both Vietnamese was between 30 and 35 per cent, the survey reported.

Deputy director of the International Co-operation Department at the Ministry, Nguyen Thanh Huyen, said families with a mother or father born in Viet Nam paid more attention to teaching the children their native language and about the culture.

On weekends, many parents took their children to Vietnamese cultural centres, some up to 20km from home, to learn the language. These children were also encouraged to take part in social activities at the centres.

The demand for learning Vietnamese was high because the majority of third generation Vietnamese do not speak their mother-tongue.

According to a statistic in 2000, there were over 1.2 million Vietnamese living in the United States, mostly in California, Texas, Washington and Virginia.

The ministry’s survey revealed school-age Vietnamese in the US were only using English.

Some parents have brought their children to Vietnamese teaching centres and the demand for studying Vietnamese was becoming more pressing in the country.

However, director of the International Co-operation Department, Tran Ba Viet Dung, who is head of the project’s steering board, said most Vietnamese teaching centres in the US were set up spontaneously.

There are now 200 Vietnamese teaching centres in the US open over the summer holidays and on the weekends.

However, as director of a language education programme in San Francisco admitted, teaching Vietnamese in the US has been difficult because schools still do not have a bilingual curriculum for Vietnamese students like the Chinese and Filipino-American students do.

In addition, the teaching materials used in other countries were not professionally compiled and teachers were mostly volunteers.

Vietnamese students living in France have coped with a similar situation – the centres were small operations and there wasn’t a compiled syllabus or professionally-trained teachers.

In other countries such as Russia, Thailand, Laos, there is a demand for classes, but there is a lack of materials and proper teachers.

New programme

The programme to teach Vietnamese to Viet kieu is part of a project to assist foreigners in teaching and studying the Vietnamese language.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Phu Binh said building a set of Vietnamese language textbooks for Viet kieu must be done carefully with the goal of helping Vietnamese people living in foreign countries easily learn the mother-tongue.

Under the project, Vietnamese would be taught as a subject in school or in classes organised by overseas Vietnamese associations.

Currently, two Viet-namese language curricula are being developed by the National Institute for Educational Strategies and Curriculum – one for children, the other for adults.

Both syllabi will focus on listening comprehension, speaking and writing, as well as Vietnamese culture.

Students, when they are comfortable with Vietnamese, will also learn more about Vietnamese geography, history, legends, folk verses and proverbs.

Adults will be trained in listening comprehension, writing, political-economic concepts, as well as the traditional culture of the 54 ethnic groups inhabiting Viet Nam.

Though the Government approved the project in early 2004, there are still many issues to discuss involving the printing of the bilingual books, devising the curriculum, and laws and policies of each foreign country concerning the issue.

According to deputy director Nguyen Thanh Huyen, the US Government does not forbid the teaching of any foreign language, but there are strict regulations to obey.

The French education ministry, however, wanted the project to be available to all people who want to learn Vietnamese, regardless of their background.

It is clear that building a programme to teach Vietnamese to Viet kieu requires many factors to come together, including teachers and teaching materials, as well as support from organisations and ministries. There are now approximately 3 million Vietnamese people living abroad. — VNS

The Vietnamese community in New Orleans East rebuilds after Katrina
by David Shaftel
February 27th, 2006 6:22 PM

Only a third of New Orleans has returned, compared to a forty-five percent rate of return in the Vietnamese enclave.
photo: David Shaftel
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On the shelves of Sonny Hoang’s supermarket in New Orleans East, bags of Zatarain’s crab boil sit next to bags of glutinous white rice, cans of jackfruit share space with Louisiana brand hot sauce. Behind the counter, Hoang, 35, does a brisk business. His was the first grocery to reopen for the thousands of Vietnamese residents here who returned to rebuild after the most devastating natural disaster in U.S. history.

Despite the odds, the neighborhood is thriving. On a recent afternoon Hoang didn’t have time to leave the cash register to investigate a delivery, and the species of a cooler full of whole fish remained unidentified. When he did break from the register, it was to clean pork ribs behind the butcher’s counter.

In the upper corner of the now-infamous Ninth Ward, New Orleans East lies about 10 miles to the northeast of the tourist-oriented and relatively unscathed French Quarter. Whereas most of the semi-urban sprawl of the Ninth Ward was devastated by floodwaters—particularly the economically desperate Lower Ninth Ward—the higher-lying Vietnamese enclave was among only a handful of neighborhoods spared the brunt of Katrina’s storm surge. Because of this, Hoang’s electrical system was not damaged and he was able to get the store up and running in time for residents who started streaming back into the reopened neighborhood this December. Most of his customers pay in cash, but the weary-eyed Hoang extends credit to those who need it. “Sometimes I get burned,” he says.

Besides selling food and dry goods, there has been a run on pots, pans, spoons, bowls, and the other basics of cookware. “People are just like me,” he said of the still-ongoing restoration of his two-family home several blocks away, “When I cleaned my house, I didn’t even think about saving anything. I just threw everything out.”

Hoang evacuated to Dallas ahead of the storm, but like many of his neighbors, he didn’t see any alternative but to return and rebuild. As such, he never asked the local government or FEMA if he should proceed. “We didn’t have the time to ask,” he said, “we just came home to rebuild the store so people have a place to shop.” Until FEMA releases its floodplain maps next month, residents and small business owners will not know how much it will cost to insure properties they are laboring to restore.

On a nearby street, Huynh Bui, 30, supervised roof repairs for his family’s one-storey home. Bui’s place only took on a foot or so of water but suffered structural damage and mold. Now teaching himself carpentry, Bui six months ago rode out the storm with four brothers and sisters and his mother, who is paralyzed and bedridden. “The roof started peeling off and the water started coming in,” said Bui, who emigrated from Vietnam when he was 13. One by one, holes appeared over each room in the one-storey house, spilling water and debris. The family moved their mother’s bed from room to room ahead of the fissures, finally settling in the one corner of the house that kept its roof. Only when the levies were breached and the floodwaters drew near did the family evacuate. Bui would spend the next five weeks at his mother’s side in a Birmingham, Alabama hospital room, watching television as New Orleans seemed to sink.

So far only about a third of the population of New Orleans has returned, compared to a forty-five percent rate of return in the Vietnamese enclave, community leaders say. The balance is staying in Vietnamese communities throughout the South, some waiting for home repairs to be completed, others for FEMA trailers. “People can’t afford to rent another house, so they have to come back here,” said Bui, whose only financial assistance was a $16,000 insurance check. “When I first came back [after the storm] I was scarred. People were acting crazy. But our culture is the most important thing, we have to build up our culture.”

Six months after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, most of New Orleans East is still in ruins. Heaps of junked appliances and disemboweled furniture line the streets. Traffic lights are still inoperative. So are hundreds of mud-caked cars that litter the city. But the Vietnamese enclave is an oasis in a desert of abandonment.

The nerve-center of the resurgence of is the Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic church, a squat, cinder block of a building lying in the shadows of the roller coasters of the ruined Six Flags amusement park, which was underwater for weeks after Katrina. Six thousand of the almost entirely Vietnamese neighborhood’s 9,000 people are Catholic, and the church has provided a non-governmental support system for the community.

The desire to return was immediate, Father Vien Nguyen, the priest of the church said, and many residents snuck back into the neighborhood before they were officially allowed in. “When we first returned, the church was an anchor for the people,” he said. Once the neighborhood was opened the church coordinated deliveries of food and supplies. The church also dispatched teams of volunteers, some from Vietnamese communities in other cities, to help people gut their homes, all of this well before the Red Cross showed up, Father Vien said. The first post-Katrina Mass was held on October 9 and drew 300 people. Attendance has since grown to around 2,000, Father Vien said.
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The Vietnamese residents of New Orleans East say that it is their shared culture that makes them so steadfast. That history, says Father Vien, goes back at least as far as 1954, when the country was partitioned and the residents of three North Vietnamese villages fled to the relative freedom of the South. Leading the migration were Catholic priests. When the south fell in 1975, the parishioners once again fled the communists together, this time to America, most of them by way of refugee camps. They settled in New Orleans at the invitation of the Catholic Church here.

As he stopped by the food distribution center operating out of the church’s compound, 69-year-old Tuoc Nguyen put Hurricane Katrina into perspective. He recalled a typhoon that leveled his village in North Vietnam in the late 1940’s. Then, too, the storm surge broke the levy and the village was flooded. He remembers seeing the bodies of dead villagers and dead fish floating around the village. He can still remember the stench. Like Katrina, that storm produced a flash flood when the levy was breached, sweeping away homes made of mud and straw. There was another difference, though. “After the storm in Vietnam, everyone was just left hungry and cold. Here we have help, in Vietnam there was no help at all,” he said, speaking through a translator.

Cynthia Willard-Lewis, who represents New Orleans East in the city council, says the Vietnamese community has set a good example for other communities that desperately want to return to their homes but have not gotten the support they need. Despite the mayor’s opposition to signing a blanket right of re-entry into all New Orleans neighborhoods after Katrina and the federal government’s reluctance to commit funds to the reconstruction of the whole of New Orleans, the Vietnamese community has gone ahead with not only returning, but presenting a plan for an enhanced neighborhood. “From day one [the city council] has been fighting for every neighborhood to return. They may have jump-started that process,” Willard-Lewis said.

There is some fear that the neighborhood will remain isolated among the ruins of more flood-prone neighborhoods that will not rebuild. They mayor’s office has argued that since many New Orleans residents are still in exile, it is inappropriate to commit to reconstruction in all neighborhoods. Other groups, like the Urban Land Institute, have called on the city to pay heed to the city’s topography and make green spaces out of the most flood-prone areas.

Katrina had a disproportionately negative effect on the city’s poor neighborhoods, which are the most vulnerable to flooding, and thus less likely to be repopulated. Many of those neighborhoods are in the Ninth Ward. The better off, but still insular Vietnamese community is straddling the line between recovery and uncertainty.

Father Vien estimates that most Vietnamese-owned businesses have reopened. Among them are the Tram Anh video store, specializing in Vietnamese movies and karaoke videos as well as biographies of Ho Chi Min and Ngo Dinh Diem and books recounting battles during the Vietnam Wars. Nearby, a locally touted Vietnamese Po’boy shop has reopened, selling overstuffed sandwiches made with three kinds of pork and Vietnamese iced coffee, made with New Orleans French Market coffee.

In the recently opened Anh Hong restaurant, the server attended to a buffet lunch as a young woman in a Viet Pop karaoke video sang forlornly about a lemon tree on a big screen television. Some businesses are ready to open, but the owners cannot find any workers, said the 42 year-old server, who asked to remain anonymous because she was shy about her stilted English.

When she returned to the city after her exile in Houston and Dallas, the server said she was frightened. There was no electricity and no people, only stray cats. “It looked like a death city,” she said. But with each passing day, more residents returned. “I hope we will rebuild again,” she said, shrugging off rumors that the neighborhood might not be incorporated into the future New Orleans. No matter what, she said, “Everyone will still go back and fix their house[s] and don’t care what people say.”
Texas didn’t feel like home to the Vietnamese in exile there, the server said, so they hurried back. “Even if your home is nothing, it is still your sweet home,” she said.
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Who is the richest Vietnamese?
17:31′ 27/02/2006 (GMT+7)

VietnamNet – After the story’ Who is the richest Vietnamese?’ received such interest, here is a follow up story on the current richest in Vietnam.

After the original story ran, Mr. Truong sent me a fax from New York, stating clearly that he had changed his mind regarding the sale of Carter Hotel, due to its status as a symbol of the success of overseas Vietnamese in the US.

“Our family has decided to retain the hotel as a valuable asset”, he confirmed in the fax. His oldest son, Mr. Tran Thanh Nam who flew back to Vietnam from the US, appreciated my story about his father, and informed me that someone later offered him US$1,000,500,000, which his father refused.

Thanks to the meeting with Mr. Truong’s son, I had a chance to learn of another successful young businessman, Mr. Le Thiet Thao, the owner of TIC group in Angola. Mr Thao contributed scholarships worth hundreds of millions of dong to poor pupils at Ky Anh School in north- central Ha Tinh province on the 40th anniversary of the school.

Following talks with Mr. Thao, I was reminded of readers’ comments expressing their hopes of having self-made businessmen praised for their achievements publicity, as a way of inspiring Vietnamese youth.

“I became aware of eminent local businessmen through the story, such as Tran Van Cuong, Pham Nhat Vuong, Vuu Khai Thanh, Vo Truong Thanh and Vu Van Tien”, one reader said, “but local singers and movie stars are publicized much more than these praiseworthy businesspeople who enrich the nation with their talent”.

This reminded me of the time I saw a man at Pleiku stadium during a super cup football match. Wearing jeans and a hat, he sat in a VIP seat beside other senior officials. Wondering who he was, Vietnam Football Federation’s Vice President told me it was Mr. Doan Nguyen Duc, president of Hoang Anh – Gia Lai football club and owner of a well known wood furniture manufacturer in Vietnam. What a shame I did not know him.

I would like to conclude with a story I read about Microsoft billionaire, Bill Gates, who while lunching with friends in Manhattan was approached by a stranger. Believing the stranger was after his autography, Gates quickly stood up, but it turned out that they had come to ask him to lower his voice, completely unaware of who he was.

Pham Duong (Tien Phong)

Intel settles down in Vietnam

Associated Press

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, announced plans Tuesday to build a $300 million chip assembly and testing factory in southern Vietnam, giving a huge boost to the country’s efforts to raise its high-tech profile.

The facility, which will be built in Ho Chi Minh City’s Saigon Hi-Tech Park, marks the single largest U.S. investment so far in its former wartime adversary. The deal is considered a significant one for Vietnam in its campaign to attract more foreign investors.

“We consider this to be one small step in a long journey of involvement with Vietnam,” said Intel Chairman Craig Barrett.

Born to lose

March 13, 2006

Memoirs of a Compulsive Gambler

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From Publishers Weekly
A gambling addiction can be as destructive and as life-altering as any other addiction, and former human resources exec and Lake Tahoe regular Lee has a story to prove it. Breezily written and compelling, Lee’s book chronicles his slow descent. He starts by reminiscing about his 1950s and ’60s San Francisco childhood, about the genetic aspects of such addictions (Lee’s Chinese grandfather was sold as a young boy to pay off his own father’s gambling debts), and about Lee’s father’s struggles with gambling. The author’s own addictions flare up when he plays the stock market (which he persuasively describes as legalized gambling), and when he needs to escape the emotional pressures of his high-stress consulting job. After falling tens of thousands of dollars into debt, Lee finally finds the strength to attend a Gambler’s Anonymous meeting, and the remainder of the book describes his difficult recovery. As a memoir of addiction, this work is hardly as lurid as some other, more popular chronicles. What sets it apart are the details about the ways in which Lee’s Chinese heritage played into his addiction and healing, providing an unusual look at the issue. Agent, Susan Rabiner. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Although the title of this book makes it sound like it might be a movie-of-the-week, true-confessions type of tearjerker, it is not. In one sense, it’s a very straightforward account of a man’s self-destructive tendencies and his battle to find some way to live with them. But look more closely, and you will find the deeply affecting, often frightening story of a man who was doomed almost from the day he was born. Lee came out of the kind of family few of us can imagine: an alcoholic, sexually abusive, compulsive-gambler father; a suicidal, possibly schizophrenic mother; an older brother who beat the author “to a bloody pulp” on a regular basis. By the time he was 8 years old, Lee had developed an -obsessive-compulsive disorder; by age 10, he was playing (very badly) blackjack and poker on a regular basis. The author’s perceptiveness, his ability to see his own flaws and to avoid falling into the trap of self-pity (or blaming others for his own actions), make this story of self-destruction and redemption surprisingly powerful. David Pitt
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