Conference: Experts gather to discuss addictive behavior.

By David Rogers, Staff writer

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To Dr. Suck Won Kim, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School who has studied drug treatments for compulsive gamblers, the behavior is a symptom that might be connected to depression or another mental disorder – and a treatment that works for one patient is probably not the right treatment for everybody with the problem.

“If it’s bipolar, use lithium. Don’t use `gambling’ drugs (that are useful for another cause),” said Kim, who received laughter from his approving audience of psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health workers at Friday’s 12th Annual Asian American Mental Health Training Conference at the Long Beach Marriott.

The conference was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and the psychiatry department at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. More than 300 people listened to experts in the area of addictive and compulsive behaviors, who spoke to this year’s theme: “Controlling the Uncontrollable – Impulse Control Behavior in Asian Americans.”

Ken Kondo, a spokesman for the Department of Mental Health, said attendees came from as far away as China and Taiwan. The

focus of the annual conference is on treating people in the Asian American culture. The department also organizes conferences for treating African Americans and Latinos. The conference has grown to the point where organizers may find another location to hold it next year, possibly in Long Beach. “This year we had to turn people away,” Kondo said.

The people who got in were able to hear Stephen Cheung, an Azusa Pacific University associate professor, talk about treating eating disorders, and Glenn I. Masuda of Pacific Clinics in Rosemead, who spoke of the need to teach parents about the uses of and potential dangers on the Internet before their children find out for themselves.

“You don’t let your 12-year-old daughter walk around at 2 in the morning in the big city, knowing she’ll be able to handle herself,” Masuda said. “It’s easier to teach parents about technology than it is to teach children life experience and wisdom.”

Dr. Timothy W. Fong, an assistant professor of psychiatry and the co-director of UCLA’s Gambling Studies Program, said that problem gambling has disproportionately affected Asian Americans. Fong said the reasons behind and the scope of the problem haven’t been studied as much as they should, but he estimated that between five and 35 percent of the Asian American population has a gambling problem, compared to one or two percent for the general population.

David Rogers can be reached at or (562) 499-1246.

08:39′ 13/10/2006 (GMT+7)

Soạn: HA 922663 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này

VietNamNet Bridge –

Vietnamese movie-lovers have high hopes for Ao Lua Ha Dong (The White Silk Dress), a film directed by Luu Huynh, which was sent to the 11th annual Pusan International Film Festival for the “New Currents” Award.

The opening ceremony of the Asia’s biggest film festival will take place at the Suyeong Bay Theater, in Pusan, South Korea the evening of Oct 12 and will be hosted by Korean movie stars Ahn Seong Ki and Moon Keun Young.

The festival has the rare opportunity of screening the Korean film Traces of Love, directed by Kim Dae Sung, at the ceremony. The highly anticipated love story quickly sold out via internet in only two and a half minutes.

245 films from 63 countries that individually received high marks of appreciation from the jury will be screened during the festival.

The festival’s film lovers and jury eagerly await the presentation of the various filmic awards including A Window on Asian Cinema, Korean Retrospective, World Cinema, New Currents, and the new Midnight Passion which introduces 12 international films at successive midnights.

Hong Kong movie star Andy Lau will be in attendance to award the “Asian Filmmaker of the Year” prize. Also expected to attend are numerous international and Korean movie stars and directors including Cha In Pyo, Shin Ae Ra, Moon So Ry, Bruno Dumont, Mingliang Tsai, and Andrea Staka.

A media presence of more than 1,500 employees and 675 volunteers will be strongly felt as well.

Pusan is being toured today by Ao Lua Ha Dong’s star Truong Ngoc Anh, director Luu Huynh and producer Phuoc Sang.

The film follows generations of a family’s female members and their relationship with the ao dai (a traditional Vietnamese silk dress) coupled with their attempts keep one precious ao dai in their possession. The movie shows a perspective of Vietnamese family life and the beauty of the ao dai to audiences.

Ao Lua Ha Dong is an impressive film that cost upwards of US$1 million. We worked incredibly hard to complete the many dangerous scenes and in the end we are very satisfied with all the work that has been done. As well, we are excited to partake in the Pusan International Film Festival because it is a great opportunity for us to exchange experiences and formally introduce Vietnamese film to the world. Of course, we hope that Ao Lua Ha Dong will take the top prize to top it all off,” shared Anh.

(Source: SGGP, TT)

Interviewed by Charles Nguyen

Director Ham Tran

Being a relatively young director, what’s your comment on this generation’s crop of Asian-Americas on and behind the silver screen? (Justin Lin, John Cho, Keiko Agena, etc.)

I think it’s a great time for Asian American directors. It’s as if we’ve been marinading for long enough and serving time is up. I also consider myself as a part of the new film renaissance of Vietnamese Americans (in Vietnam they call us Viet Kieu, or VK for short). There’s myself, Victor Vu, Chalie Nguyen, Thu Ha, Van Kiet, Ringo Le, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, and of course coming back onto the production scene are the Bui brothers—Tim and Tony!

Your short, “The Anniversary” (SDAFF 2005), was based on material very similar to “Journey From the Fall.” How did you build off of your short into your first feature?

Actually, I wrote “The Anniversary” while I was in the process of writing “Journey From the Fall.” The short film story was supposed to be the father’s flashback, but as I was writing it, I realized that it was getting too complex—that and the fact that I had to turn in my thesis script for UCLA. So, I removed the story of the two brothers meeting up during the Vietnam War, and made it into its own short film, “The Anniversary.”

The feature, on the other hand, was a culmination of three years of research, interviews, looking through footage of the war, lots of Vietnam War documentaries, and lots of photography books.

Long Nguyen in “Journey from the Fall”

What about Vietnamese history do you find enthralling?

When one looks at the history of Vietnam, it has always been under the shadow of a bigger country. First, it was China, then came the French, and later the Americans. There’s even a Vietnamese folksong that talks about it. I learned that song while working with a Vietnamese American comedy group called Club O’Noodles.

Getting back to the topic of history. It irritates me whenever I meet someone and I tell them that I’m from Vietnam, because the immediate response is almost always, “Yeah, it’s terrible shame what happened with the Vietnam vets.” or “Yeah, my [so and so] fought in ‘Nam.” The war was about Vietnam, not America. We’ve been fighting for over a thousand years before the Americans came. Same war. New flags.

See “Journey from the Fall” on Thursday, October 12 at 7 PM.

Vietnam has so much more to offer than just our wars, but if one really wants to go there, there are way better stories that can be told. Of course, there’s the legend of Le Loi (as you will hear about in “Journey From the Fall”), but then there’s the legend of the Trung sisters, who first used elephants for war in Vietnam, and the emperor Hung Vuong XVIII. Now those are some serious costume drama, Crouching Tiger action!

Then there’s the richness of contemporary Vietnamese literature. I only know a handful, but my housemates, Viet and Lan, are like my cornucopia of literature and old Vietnamese flicks.

To you, how much of movie production is about personal investment with the film’s material?

How do I answer this question…well, I haven’t been paid for working on “Journey From the Fall” for over a year now, but I’m still answering the fan mail and doing the grassroots promotional circuit. Beyond the pocketbook, it’s a film that takes its toll emotionally. I’m still rebuilding my personal life from the experience!

Kieu Chinh in “Journey from the Fall”

What have you learned from working with cinematic Vietnamese icons such as Kieu Chinh and Don Duong?

I really wanted to work with Don Duong again for “Journey”, but we couldn’t get his manager to see eye to eye with us. Otherwise, he would have totally brought something amazing to the screen as Uncle Nam (one of the supporting characters in the film).

Kieu Chinh, however, was absolutely great to work with. Talk about dedication! She’s so beautiful and elegant in person that our make-up artist had to take over an hour every day to get her to look like Ba Noi (the grandmother). We had to age her hair, paint her teeth black (her character chews betel leaves), and dot every liver spot on her hands and face. She even lost weight for the role because she wanted to embody the feel of Ba Noi as a boat refugee.

I remember the look in her eyes when we did the boat rescue scene. As I watched the dailies, I asked myself, “My god, where did she draw that from? What moment in her life did she use to create this look of sheer terror, mixed with guilt and rejoice? It was piercing, aching expression. Mesmerizing.

I have spoken with Kieu Chinh, who commented on her pride that a young director such as yourself was willing to revisit his native country’s history. Why have you chosen to focus your films on Vietnamese history?

For me, it was simple. I wanted the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War to be the year that the record was set straight. The War did not end with the Americans pulling out. Vietnam’s history did not end when the communists took over Saigon and renamed it Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese people will no longer be a backdrop to an American cast in a Vietnam War film. We will tell our story, in our language, about our experiences.

Daily line-up at a re-education camp in “Journey from the Fall”

Can you believe that in the last 30 years since the end of the war, there has only been two films made about boat people? The first being a Hong Kong film, the second is “Beautiful Country,” which in my eyes still told the story through tinted foreign glasses. No film has ever been made about the re-education camps. There was a line in the original version of the script that was cut out in the final edit of the film, “It’s not what you say that makes a history important. It’s when you say it.”

My producer and I interviewed more than a hundred survivors of the re-education camps and boat refugees, and I would say that 7 out of 10 of everyone we spoke to have not told their own children what they revealed to us. So we asked them, “Why? Why not let your children know about what you had to suffer in order to come to America?” Their response is very typically Vietnamese, “Why tell them about pain? Why tell them about shame? The past is best to be buried.” They would carry these important stories to their graves, and never realize that our youth of today need to know why they are here. The so-called generation gap is not one created by age. It’s created by silence, a deep burrowing kind that hollows the heart.

I think that this production was really blessed because everyone who contributed to the film worked from the understanding that this is a story that needs to be told. I’ve been very fortunate to have this kind of energy and support to commemorate my first feature film.

What was the process of finding stories of immigrants/reeducation camp prisoners? How did you decide which stories you wanted to tell?

I think the stories were measured with tears. My producer, Lam, will tell you that he cried hundreds of times during the audition process. We held an open call to the community in Little Saigon and San Jose. I didn’t want to cast “actors” because I need to keep the film as authentic as possible. Aside from Kieu Chinh and Long Nguyen, everyone else in the film had never acted before. Some were real reeducation camp survivors, and some were actually lost at sea on those over-packed, rickety fishing boats. The audition process was basically, my producer and I talking for a half hour with each person who showed up for the call. We wanted to know from their experiences, at the same time gauging whether or not that person would be able to go back to a specific time and emotional place in their life in order to bring to their role. The stories that brought us instantly to tears were the ones that got worked into the script.

One example is Miss Kim Chi’s story about visiting her husband. She had reenacted the scene so well and it was so moving that almost every detail of her story became Mai’s visit to Long at the prison camp.

By Charles Nguyen

Kieu Chinh in “Journey from the Fall”

If critics were to award “Journey from the Fall” actress Kieu Chinh with a Lifetime Achievement Award — which they’ve done once already — some serious thought should be dedicated to a question: Which of Chinh’s lives deserves more applause?

After all, the life of Chinh — winner of the 2003 Vietnamese International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award and current recipient of the 2006 San Diego Asian Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award — is the life of over 100,000 others. In 1975, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese-born civilians, fearing reprisals after decades of war, fled to America and began anew.

In hindsight, Chinh’s work-life before the war was much like her current one. In Vietnam, she was a respected actress, culled by directors and producers to play strong, leading female characters. But it has been a long climb since 1975, Chinh says.

See Kieu Chinh in our opening night film, “Journey from the Fall”, on Thursday, Oct 12 at 7 PM and in person at the Gala Awards Dinner on Saturday, Oct 14.

“In Vietnam, I was known,” she says, in the calm but firm matriarchal tone that befits many her characters. “Before the war, I never had to audition. Even if I did, there wouldn’t be the amount of competition that there is here.”

At the tender age of 18, Chinh received her first starring role in the Vietnamese-produced “The Bells of Thien Mu Temple.” By the 1960s, she was a starlet in high demand for both Vietnamese and American productions. In 1964, Chinh even starred alongside tough-guy Burt Reynolds in “Operation C.I.A.” Then, with the war escalating, actress Tippi Hedren of “The Birds” fame sponsored Chinh’s immigration to and citizenship in America.

Since then it has been all work, Chinh laughs; her resume proves the point. Chinh has touched almost all acting genres, with extended stints in soap operas (“Dynasty”) and tearjerkers (“Touched by an Angel”) to leading roles in film.

Kieu Chinh as Suyuan Woo in “The Joy Luck Club”

It’s Chinh’s most recognized portrayal that speaks to her acting prowess. In the “Joy Luck Club,” Chinh played Suyuan Woo, a driven but commandeering mother that is forced to abandon her children in China, then tries to cultivate a new family life in America. Chinh nailed the audition with Wayne Wang and Amy Tan — an impromptu session Chinh said she had only because she was in the same building for other business — and played Woo with a sort of dignified grace Chinh believed the character deserved.

But there was one hitch: Chinh didn’t speak Woo’s language. It was an obstacle Chinh has dealt with many times in her American career. In “M*A*S*H*,” Chinh played a Korean. For a one-time gig on “Fantasy Island,” Chinh was billed as an “Oriental woman.” But while crowds of Asian American actors try to break ethnic barriers, Chinh may have transcended them.

“When someone asks me to speak Chinese for a job, I speak Chinese and when someone asks me to speak Korean, I will do the same,” she says, with a chuckle that suggests language acquisition should be effortless. “Acting is something human, so the characters’ culture or race doesn’t stop me from connecting with them on some base level.”

Chinh’s adaptability wasn’t needed, however, for her latest role in “Journey from the Fall,” which the actress calls the most personally touching work she has done.

In the film, helmed by first-time feature director Ham Tran, Chinh plays an immigrant mother stricken by grief after she leaves her son in a Vietnamese postwar concentration camp.

“This story is about the pain and separation of war,” Chinh says. There is a rare waver in her voice, reserved for the times she speaks of the war. “I could feel my character because I meet her daily in my friends, my relatives and myself.”

Vietnamese authorities have found that regulations aimed at tightening control over Internet cafes have been largely ignored, state-controlled media reported Saturday.

Under a decree issued last year, Vietnam’s estimated 5,000 Internet cafes were ordered to examine customers’ identification, record their personal information, monitor their usage and block access to subversive and pornographic sites.

But a nationwide three-month inspection, which ended this month, showed that most Internet cafes violated the regulations, the Tien Phong newspaper said.

“The results of the three-month inspection showed that the regulations on management of Internet cafes are outdated and even unrealistic,” the newspaper said.

Most of the Internet cafes had not installed software to bar access to subversive and pornographic sites. They also did not store the personal information of users for 30 days on computer servers and ignored rules governing children in the cafes, it said.

“The regulations requiring children under 14 years of age to be accompanied by an adult when using services at Internet cafes are very difficult to implement,” the newspaper quoted Nguyen Anh Ca, director of the Post and Telecommunications Department of the south-central province of Ninh Thuan, as saying.

The newspaper quoted Nguyen Kim Hoa, director of the Post and Telecommunications Department of Khanh Hoa province, as saying most Internet cafes did not make clients show their ID cards for fear the clients would go to a competitor which did not require identification.

There are more than 10 million Internet users in Vietnam, which has a population of 84 million.

The government has cracked down on users accessing the Internet for political or religious dissent. Several cyber dissidents have received lengthy jail sentences in recent years.


13:00′ 14/10/2006 (GMT+7)

Soạn: HA 924389 gi đến 996 để nhn ảnh này
A scene in Concealing the pangs.

VietNamNet Bridge – There is an increasing trend in Vietnam’s movie industry: movie producers buy formats of foreign films and restage them to make them more suitable for Vietnamese audiences.


Painful lessons with Thai films 

Producing a movie based on a foreign film format is not new among international film producers. The well-known Hong Kong movie, Internal Affairs, was recently turned into The Departed by Hollywood. It is not surprising that The Departed, as an “offspring”, has been regarded as much better than its “mother”. 

Shortages of good scripts for film making would be the main reason for the purchase of movie formats. Quickly getting the idea, Vietnamese film producers have bought a considerable number of film movie formats to restage them, or in other words “Vietnamise” them to meet the demands of Vietnamese audiences. 

Several Thai movies have been bought by Vietnamese film producers such as Vong xoay tinh yeu (The love whirl), Niem dau chon giau (Concealing the pangs) etc. However, if it is usually true in similar cases in other countries that the second entertainment product is better than the original one, the second Vietnamese film product provides a rather different example. 

Critics have said that just watching the second Vietnamese film products without knowing that they were made from foreign originals, one did not even want to watch these films to the end let alone say “thumbs up”. These films have been badly made. Indeed, many differences between Vietnamese culture and the foreign ones were not changed to turn the story into more suitable for Vietnam’s “life”. 

A painful lesson Vietnamese producers have learned from purchasing Thai films is that they will never be able to successfully compete with the overwhelmingly preferred Korean and Chinese soap operas in Vietnam.

Short of budget, carelessly restaging these Vietnamese film versions, Vietnamese movie producers have failed to lure audiences to watch their poor-quality products. 

Western movie formats are nothing without improving the quality 

Recently, a Spanish film format was purchased by Vietnamese film producers. Efforts to seek for new formats made by Vietnamese producers should be encouraged. However, for Vietnamese audiences, Spanish movies are not popular. Doubts have risen on whether these “Vietnamese- Spanish” movies will not run into the troubles the “Vietnamese – Thai” films did. 

The Spanish format is a sitcom movie, which would be new to Vietnamese people and even for those film producers. Nguyen Minh Chung, the director of the Vietnamese version, “The little mother” said that for him, making this kind of film he encountered many difficulties as he did not have any experience with this kind of film. 

Talking about the future of purchasing foreign film formats, many experts have said that there will be more and more of these kinds of films. The reasons given are a lack of good original movie scripts and film producers are driven by the profit they get from advertisements during the time the films are shown. This also helps to explain why these films are still produced even though they are poorly made. 

Vo Tien