March 28, 2007
Video clip producer Jason Shynola (right) and his colleague Nguyen Viet Tu
(Nhan Dan Online) The British Council in Hanoi has kicked off a music video project called ‘Antenna Plus’ with a view to showcasing the creativity of the UK music video industry, promoting Vietnamese video clip makers as well as strengthening UK- Vietnam partnerships in the field.
The project will conduct various activities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, including talks, screenings of UK video clips and video clip competitions.
The first event of the project, a special talk was held last night in Hanoi for film students and video clip lovers by Jason Groves, video clip producer of Shynola from the UK and Vietnamese video clip director Nguyễn Việt Tú.
At the talk, the ‘wonder boy of British animation’, Jason Groves presented a special talk sharing Shynola’s creative and practical approach to creating and then successfully pitching concepts for music video. Consisting of 4 members, Shynola is highly acclaimed for their promos and music videos in the UK.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Viet Tu, who is considered Vietnam’s most creative and avant-garde video clip director, talked about his works and shared his views as a music director about the music video industry of Vietnam.
A similar talk will also be held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 14 at 9 a.m. at the New Stage, Ho Chi Minh City College of Stage Arts and Film, 125 Cong Quynh, district 1.
On 13 March in Hanoi and 14 March in Ho Chi Minh City, the British Council will also organise a discussion between Jason Groves and Vietnamese music video clip makers of the two cities in order to exchange ideas and explore the possibility of UK – Vietnam co-operation in the field of music video in future.
Also under the project, the British Council will introduce a new concept of DVJ with a unique DVJ show by Eclectic Method in Hanoi on 21 March 2007.
March 28, 2007
March 26, 2007 12:00am
ONE of the paths to happiness, according to an ancient Indian text, is not to leave your homeland permanently.
The wisdom of this has struck me during my visit to Vietnam.Invited to join a party of Vietnamese men and women, aged from 23 to 50 years, it was remarkable to witness their love of country and each other’s company.
Young women rushed to don traditional northern Vietnamese costume and regale us with the most delicate, lilting
folk songs. Then there was poetry recitation, comb-and-paper saxophone playing, enthusiastic singing of Vietnamese pop songs, accompanied by guitar, and many, many laughs and hugs.
The people here are so enthusiastic about their culture and prosperity that I feel sympathy for the Vietnamese who were forced to make their lives elsewhere in the wake of the Vietnam War, or the American War as the Vietnamese call it.
A woman tells me of her sister’s life in Sydney and how their mother has become too old to visit Australia. The expatriate sister longs for her family in Vietnam, but her children are Australian.
She lives a life amputated from her culture.
Another tells me of Vietnamese-Australian men returning to their homeland in search of wives.
She has happily rejected several offers because she has no desire to leave Vietnam. Why would I leave all this, she asks? Why, indeed?
THE faces I see in Victoria St, Richmond, are sometimes smiling, the atmosphere sometimes redolent of the real Vietnam. Sometimes. But only in a fragile and fractured manner. Little Saigon is a pale imitation of the real Saigon.
The Vietnamese regard for ancestry is also particularly strong, which makes breaking the ties to home additionally difficult.
Many are returning to Vietnam from countries such as Australia, but many more cannot because of newly formed bonds. They have gained new homes and new opportunities, but they are also missing out on so much.
And it’s not just the Vietnamese who find a migratory life is one mixed with tears and joy.
A friend tells me of her gardener, who is saving up to return to the Philippines in his old age. He does not want to die in a strange land.
Throughout my own life I have often dreamed of living elsewhere, perhaps London or New York.
And then I think of being permanently away from home, friends and family, and the appeal quickly fades. Travel is a tonic but home is a haven.
New York, for example, is no place for any but the robust, according to a young architect friend. She recalls with horror a bout of flu while living there.
Not a soul called to inquire after her health, let alone fetch her a bowl of chicken soup.
Friends and colleagues who have made the pilgrimage to London are also returning in droves after finding life there just too darned hard.
Being an outsider can be exhilarating as a visitor, but can prove tiresome over time.
VISIT nursing homes in Australia and listen to migrants suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Their learned English frequently deserts them as they once again speak the language of their birthplace.
Their bodies might be in Melbourne but their hearts and minds are yearning for Poland, Hungary, China and the many other countries that have populated Australia.
Forty per cent of us were either born elsewhere or have migrant parents. No matter how multicultural Australia has become, the ties that bind to other places can tug relentlessly.
Australians need to bear this in mind when considering our immigration policies and treatment of refugees.
Too often it is assumed that people leave their homes and take to the seas in leaky boats because of aspiration rather than desperation.
But just imagine how hard it is to leave your home and what a tough decision it must be to make.
The vast majority are found to be in genuine need of our help and protection. Some will eventually make Australia their new, permanent home. Others will stay only until they can safely return to their loved ones.
Before we judge them, we should imagine ourselves in their position and remember the old adage that applies to us all: there really is no place like home.
March 28, 2007
Howard Ho, Special to The Times
WRITER-director Ham Tran likes to whisper. He often does it as he directs his actors, looking them in the eyes.
“Their eyes will tell you if they’re in the moment or not,” Tran said, adding that entering the difficult moments he wanted to create is “not about tears. It’s about drifting into a place of memory.” Such drifting was an important process for Tran’s first feature, “Journey From the Fall,” which opened Friday in limited release in New York, San Jose, Westminster and Garden Grove. The film follows the Vietnamese refugee experience after the 1975 fall of Saigon, tracing the story of a family that must flee to America by boat when a father is detained in a “reeducation” camp. Around the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, Tran became obsessed with little-known stories of the estimated 2 million boat people who fled the Communists. He would eventually interview more than 400 people, including refugees and survivors of the reeducation camps, which were essentially prisons.
With Thailand substituting for Vietnam (the government still disavows the camps and wouldn’t permit filming), Tran cast many of his interviewees, asking them to relive their memories, which he regards as the smartest decision he made. Though they weren’t actors, with the help of Tran’s whisperings they provided a palpable realism to the film.
For instance, Tran elicited a tearful performance from one survivor who’d lost contact with his daughter. “I said, ‘For the next five minutes I want you to look at this photograph. Picture your missing daughter. What would you say to her?’ ” Tran said. “And naturally from there he went straight into the dialogue.”
“For those people, they don’t have to act,” said Kieu Chinh (“The Joy Luck Club”), one of few professional actors on set. “They cry real tears, not make-up tears.”
In another scene, Tran took his cast to the middle of the ocean to catch a rainstorm (rain machines were not included in the film’s $1.6-million budget). When Tran ordered actors to hide from the rain, one survivor in the cast corrected him.
“[This woman said], ‘When the storm came, we jumped out of the hull. We grabbed all the bowls we could find. We soaked it up into our clothes and wrung out our clothes later to drink the water, because we were that thirsty,’ ” Tran said.
He depicts a reeducation camp experience of hard labor, isolation and corporeal punishment, the details of which remain somewhat obscured even in the Vietnamese American community. Although more than three decades have passed, many who lived through the fall of South Vietnam and the subsequent relocations and “reeducations” still have a hard time talking about it, Tran found. The shame of suffering and losing their country is often bottled up in favor of American optimism. But after sold-out screenings of the film’s rough-cut in 2005 and its Sundance premiere in 2006, Tran sees more dialogue between generations.
“It’s a catalyst to open up the discussion,” he said, “because if no one ever speaks the first words, they would never be said.”
It’s his story too
TRAN left Vietnam in 1982, when he was 8, and while he was not a boat person, he ended up in a refugee camp. His family settled in Santa Ana, and he captures its experience in “Journey.” Being ethnic Chinese, Tran grew up “whitewashed,” as his American and Chinese cultures left little room for Vietnamese roots. But in his last year of college, he reconnected after seeing a Vietnamese American theater troupe’s show about growing up as a refugee.
He joined the troupe, Club O’Noodles, as an actor, writer and director. Then went to UCLA film school, where his Vietnamese-themed short film “The Anniversary” was shortlisted for a 2004 Oscar. While filming “Anniversary” on location in Vietnam, Tran kept his eye on a feature film, retaining key crew members, including composer Christopher Wong and cinematographer Guillermo Rosas (“Before Night Falls”).
Tran stays busy in the community, producing and editing films for fellow Vietnamese American filmmakers such as Charlie Nguyen, who’s making an action film called “The Rebel.” Tran’s next script is a World War II drama about the 442nd Regiment, which was solely comprised of Japanese Americans.
Tran hopes “Journey” will lay the groundwork for a new theatrical niche. The release is the first for the Asian American-run Imaginasian, which will roll out the film in 10 North American cities. With grass-roots marketing efforts in Orange County’s Little Saigon, where Tran was recently editing the film’s trailer at a local Vietnamese TV station, Tran sees his project as bigger than his film.
“The whole release is about building a new audience altogether,” Tran said. “It’s about finding the right product to galvanize the community. The last time you had something like that was ‘Better Luck Tomorrow.’ [Only] then you can have ‘Harold & Kumar.’ “
Article Launched: 03/24/2007 01:42:21 AM PDT
Click photo to enlarge
Thao Le, (at front, not related to the person behind her) of Alameda, who left… ( thu hoang ly document.getElementById(‘articleViewerGroup’).style.margin = “0px 0px 10px 10px”; } Can a movie break the dam of reserve that holds back years of unspeakable sorrows? Can it lead to understanding between an iPod generation and their refugee elders? It may be ambitious, but “Journey from the Fall,” an epic movie that opened Friday in San Jose, Orange County and New York, will provide the opening for thousands of Vietnamese-American families to start the difficult dialogue about what they personally experienced after the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.
“I’ve seen it four times, and every time I cry,” said Bao Thien Ngo, a 25-year-old De Anza College student, for whom the war’s aftermath is ancient history.
Ngo, with friend Minh Nguyen, helped spearhead the sell-out of 287 seats in Friday’s 6:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. downtown shows among young people. Tonight was already half-sold out, and with this weekend’s San Jose screenings of the San Francisco Asian American International Film Festival, Camera 12 predicted spillover crowds.
The debut film, by 31-year-old Ham Tran, traces a fictional family’s experience after American soldiers pulled out of Vietnam. The story – which includes scenes in a re-education camp and a frightening sea passage – might as well be the Vietnamese boat people’s tale of Everyman.
“I keep thinking in the back of my mind that this was the story of my parents and my grandparents,” said Ngo.
More than $7,000 in advance group sales prompted Camera Cinemas to acquire a second print. Ngo, who is
avice president for the United Vietnamese Student Association of Northern California, was astonished that one of his high school groups bought 130 tickets so they could bring their parents. Ngo brought his grandparents to the Camera on Friday night and his mother is going tonight. Friday afternoon, Tam Phan, 53, drove up from Monterey with her sister and nephew’s family to see the film they’d been hearing so much about. Her daughter in Los Angeles was going to see it today and she hoped her son at the University of California-San Diego makes it to San Jose.
Dylan Marchetti, in charge of acquisitions for distributor ImaginAsian, saw “Journey” at the Cannes Film Festival. He said he was attracted to the small-budget film with the acting and production values of a Hollywood epic.
Tran and ImaginAsian say “Journey” is the first film about the boat people’s experience, the first film to depict the re-education camps, but that’s half true.
There have been other films about boat people – Hong Kong director Ann Hui’s “The Boat People” in 1983 and Hans Petter Moland’s “Beautiful Country” in 2004. But “Journey” is the first film to be told from the Vietnamese point of view – by Vietnamese, about Vietnamese – with authenticity and sensibility that Vietnamese viewers will recognize.
Tran, a UCLA film school graduate, listened to his grandfather’s tales of the grim conditions aboard a refugee tanker, knees crammed to chest, hardly anything to sing about – as happened in “Beautiful Country.” Tran wasn’t interested in casting recognizable Chinese-American actresses like Lucy Liu nor American characters such as Nick Nolte.
Tran, who came to the United States at age 8, made sure of that. When being an Oscar runner-up in 2004 for his short, “The Anniversary,” opened doors in Hollywood, he eschewed any investment that would make him give up control of the film. Indeed, many of the cast were not actors but had been in re-education camps or had fled on boats via the pirate-plagued seas. Tran encouraged actors to speak out if a scene did not ring true.
The film got good buzz at film festivals. ImaginAsian used “social networking” among college student associations, Vietnamese Catholic and Vietnamese veterans groups, and passed out fliers at Tet festivals. The power of a collective Vietnamese emotional experience captured the attention of young Vietnamese-Americans.
“Once you get to the second generation, we know nothing,” Ngo said. “I knew nothing about the Vietnam War or the boat people experience – even though I had family members I could ask.” His conversations with his father were less about the past than “How are you doing in school?”
For Tran, the powerful emotions underneath the surface are very present in his parents’ generation – but had been stifled.
“They raised us through silence,” Tran said about his parents’ generation. They had gone through horrendous things – rapes, torture, degradation – by the time they reached the United States, Australia, France, and even then, the fate of other family members was unknown. Yet they were faced with surviving right away.
There’s a phrase in Vietnamese – “bao qua” – you put it away in order to go on.
Yet knowing those experiences are a missing link. Mental health problems from postwar experiences, gang problems from the generation gap between parents and children, are all related to understanding the present, Ngo said.
“Aside from the fact that it’s a compelling, beautiful film, the most important reason for me to urge others to see it is because it can be a stepping stone to address contemporary issues. If you learn this, then you can understand why your parents are this way. If you learn that, someday you can find a way to address many things.”
Tran thinks it can do more. He hopes it can cross over.
Americans had to deal with the war experience through film – “Coming Home,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Hamburger Hill” and others, Tran said. “Now there are Vietnamese-Americans and we have to heal as well.”
The acknowledgment through communally experiencing a film could lead to healing the wound. “As a community we need to reconcile. Then we can put it behind us.”
All Americans could learn a little of that history past April 30, 1975.
From that common understanding, we can all go forward.
IF YOU’RE INTERESTED
See http://www.cameracinemas.com and journeyfromthefall.com.
“Journey From the Fall,” about Vietnamese boat people, scuttles competition with highest per-screen average
March 28, 2007
“Journey From the Fall,” a modestly-budgeted independent film from a new production company hoping to attract Asian-American audiences, scored a remarkable opening-weekend victory, grossing a higher per-screen average at the box office than any movie in the country last week. That includes last weekend’s box office champ, “TMNT,” which made an estimated $25.45 million overall, but lagged behind the $21,861 per screen that “Journey From the Fall” averaged. By comparison, “Shooter” had the third-highest overall take, but averaged just $5,168 per screen. The new Adam Sandler drama “Reign Over Me” averaged just $4,788 per screen.
“Journey” played to mostly sold-out screenings in San Jose–where director Ham Tran appeared for a question-and-answer session following one of Saturday’s showings–as well as New York City and Westminster. All three cities have large Vietnamese-American communities, where grass roots marketing campaigns, strong word of mouth and positive reviews all contributed to strong showings at the box office. San Jose’s Camera 12 Cinemas had to hurriedly order a second print of the film from ImaginAsian Pictures, the first-time distributor, to handle its overflow crowds. The film grossed $87,442.
“This is a defining moment for Asian-American cinema and is a testament to the talent, determination and vision of the filmmakers and producers involved,” said Michael Hong, the CEO of ImaginAsian Pictures.
The film will expand to more theaters nationwide beginning March 30, and will begin appearing on screens in other Bay Area cities April 20. It is inspired by the true stories of Vietnamese refugees who fled their country after the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, and it is one of the first films ever to examine the struggles of those who stayed behind and endured the brutalities of the re-education camps set up by the new government.
One Response to ““Journey From the Fall,” about Vietnamese boat people, scuttles competition with highest per-screen average”
March 28, 2007
Article Launched: 03/26/2007 07:09:31 PM PDT
Journey From the Fall,” a modestly budgeted independent film from a new production company hoping to attract Asian-American audiences, scored a remarkable opening-weekend victory. It grossed a higher per-screen average at the box office than any movie in the country last week.
That includes last weekend’s box office champ, “TMNT,” which made an estimated $25.45 million overall, but lagged behind the $21,861 per screen that “Journey From the Fall” averaged.
“Journey” played to mostly sold-out screenings in San Jose, Westminster, as well as New York City. All three cities have large Vietnamese-American communities.
San Jose’s Camera 12 Cinemas had to hurriedly order a second print of the film from ImaginAsian Pictures, the first-time distributor, to handle its overflow crowds. The film grossed $87,442.
The film is inspired by the true stories of Vietnamese refugees who fled their country after the fall of Saigon, and it is one of the first films to examine the struggles of those who stayed behind and endured the brutalities of the re-education camps set up by the new government.
The film expands to more theaters nationwide Friday.
– Bruce Newman
Ninja series, 6 others win YouTube prize
YouTube highlighted its star-making ability today by unveiling its first batch of YouTube Video Award winners, several of which have become virtual household names over the past year.
Power pop band OK Go and the video series
Ask a Ninja” were among the seven winners in the video-sharing site’s inaugural awards. YouTube last week selected 10 nominees in seven categories, the winners of which were decided by user votes. It was a quick, hasty process begun and concluded in just a week – a far cry from the many months of, say, Oscar campaigning.
OK Go, perhaps the most professional of the mostly amateur nominees, won most creative video for its “Here It Goes Again” music video. “Ask a Ninja,” the comedy created by Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine, won for best series.
“Ask a Ninja” triumphed over what may be YouTube’s biggest celebrity, Lonelygirl15. That bedroom production finished fourth, behind “Ask A Gay Man” and “Chad Vader.”
Terra Naomi won for best music video for her song “Say It’s Possible,” a one-shot clip of her playing acoustic guitar and singing. Naomi has parlayed her online success into a record deal with Island Records and will release her debut album this summer.
Similar to how an actor might thank the Academy for an Oscar, Naomi paid her respects to the YouTube community.
Best commentary was one of the most hotly contested categories, as it pitted several of YouTube’s most high-profile personalities against one another. A “vlogger” known as “The Wine Kone” won over Peter Oakley (“Geriatric1927”) and Paul Robinett (“Renetto”).
A video calling for a “Free Hugs Campaign” won for most inspirational video. Australian Juan Mann’s video set off an online wildfire of similar “Free Hugs” campaigns.
Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, also known as Smosh, won for best comedy video. Dony Permedi’s animated video “Kiwi!” – which began as a master’s thesis on animation – won for most adorable video.
The winners and nominees are compiled in a gallery at http://www.youtube.com/YTAwards. YouTube says it will later unveil what a YouTube Video Award will look like.