The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) by Ellen Kuras

Written and directed by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) follows a family of Lao immigrants in New York struggling to rebuild their lives after being forced to leave their native country. (Phrasavath’s father had collaborated with the CIA, choosing targets for U.S. bombings.)

Reviews have been highly positive. The New York TimesA. O. Scott called The Betrayal “contemplative and impressionistic,” while Newsweek’s David Ansen proclaimed it a “moving, lyrical … epic.”

The Betrayal has been nominated for the 2009 Spirit Awards and is one of the 15 semi-finalist documentaries in the running for the 2009 Academy Awards.

The Betrayal opens at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills on Jan. 16.

Official Site.

Jeremy Kay in Los Angeles
15 Jan 2009 19:34

Timothy Linh Bui, Stephane Gauger, Ham Tran and Wyn Tran’s newly launched distributor Wave Releasing targeting Vietnamese-American and discerning independent audiences and will roll out its maiden title Owl And The Sparrow on January 16.

The Vietnamese-American partners have worked in various capacities on each other’s projects and were inspired to launch the company when Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro launched cha cha cha.

Owl And The Sparrow, which won the audience award at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival, will open in limited theatres in Los Angeles, Irvine and Westminster before rolling out to San Francisco, San Jose, Houston, Chicago, and other cities in the coming weeks.

The film takes place in Saigon where a ten-year-old orphan plays matchmaker to a zookeeper and a beautiful flight attendant.

“We’re at a crossroads point in indie filmmaking and this was our way of helping to ensure that we’re on the correct side as the paradigm shift occurs,” Wave Releasing’s CEO and co-founder Bui said. “Starting the company was our response to the digital revolution and a way for us to reclaim a strong film and storytelling legacy.”

“What’s great about our company is that we all know and like each other and we end up working on each other’s films, so the move to join together and distribute our films was very much a natural one,” Gauger added.

Happy New Year

We hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. 2008 has been an exciting and challenging year for us. We’re excited to announce that Owl and the Sparrow will open in Los Angeles and Orange County theaters today, January 16th, and will expand to major cities in January and February.  If you’ve seen the film at a film festival, we invite you to experience this warm-hearted film again and bring your friends.

Check out the blog!

Owl and the Sparrow opens
January 16th in Los Angeles and Orange County and expands the following week to major cities:
January 16, 2008
Laemmle Sunset 5
8000 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Showtimes: 1.40p  4.20p  7.15p  9.45p
Regal Garden Grove
9741 Chapman Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92841

(714) 534-4777
Showtimes: 12.10p  2.40p  5.05p  7.30p  10.05p

Edwards Westpark
3755 Alton Pky
Irvine, CA 92604

(949) 622-8609
Showtimes: 1.30p  4.30p  7.30p  9.50p

Coming Soon:
January 23, 2008 – San Jose, Camera 3

Febuary 6, 2008 – Dallas & Houston, TBA
Febuary 13, 2008 – San Francisco, Sundance Kabuki Theater


January 16, 2009
Laemmle Sunset 5 -West Hollywood
Meet writer/director Stephane Gauger & Exec. Producer Timothy Linh Bui (Green Dragon, Three Seasons) @ the 7.15p & 9.45p showtimes for Q&A

January 17, 2009

Edwards Westpark 8 – Irvine
Q&A with writer/director Stephane Gauger @ 4.30p & 7.30p showtimes

By L.A. Weekly Film Critics
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
OWL AND THE SPARROW (Vietnam/USA) Writer-director Stephane Gauger’s lovely debut tracks a week in the lives of three young Vietnamese: a flight attendant on holiday, a zoo employee and a 10-year-old runaway. After suffering through multiple-storyline ensemble dramas like Crash and Babel, which resort to convoluted narrative coincidences to drive home humanistic messages, Owl and the Sparrow feels shockingly, refreshingly simple. Unfolding organically and honestly without a thought to making any larger points, the film’s look at loneliness and tentative connection is small-scaled but tremendously resonant. Special accolades to child actress Pham Thi Han, who doesn’t have a hammy or maudlin bone in her body.

For more dates, go to our website at:
http://www.owlandth esparrow. com

To view trailer, click on com/watch? v=qJB9ZQQiClY

Here’s what else we’ve been up to lately:
* We had a benefit screening in Raleigh studios Hollywood where over $10,000 was raised for Vietnamese orphanages.
* Owl and the Sparrow was released theatrically in Japan and South Korea.

Owl and the Sparrow awards and nominations

2008 Nominee, Independent Spirit AwardsJohn Cassavetes Award
2007 Nominee, Gotham Awards – Breakthrough Director
Winner, Audience Award – Los Angeles Film Festival
Winner, Best Narrative Feature
San Francisco Asian American Film Festival
Dallas Asian Film Festival
San Diego Asian American Film Festival
Winner, NETPAC Award – Hawaii International Film Festival
Winner, Emerging Filmmaker – Starz Denver Film Festival

Click here to watch Owl and the Sparrow celebrity promo videos: com/ WaveReleasing
Read our blog at:

htttp://www. owlandthesparrow . com/blog.html

Click to add us on:

Tet films run the gamut

January 20, 2009

Kicking off last week, this holiday season’s Tet films celebrate love, lament loss, and are filled with both tears and laughs.

With a range of genres represented – comedy, romance, action and drama – there are pros and cons to this year’s Tet holiday films Giai cuu than chet (Hot Kiss 2), Dep tung centimet (Beautiful by the Centimeter) and Huyen thoai bat tu (Legend Is Alive).

Giai cuu than chet (Hot Kiss 2)

Giai cuu than chet (Hot Kiss 2) is the highly anticipated sequel to Nu hon than chet (Kiss of Death), Vietnam’s highest grossing film ever, which also won the silver prize at the 2007 Canh Dieu Vang (Golden Kite) awards, Vietnam’s answer to the Oscars.

The VND7 billion (US$410,000) film follows the story of a school girl who enlists the help of an angel of death to become popular at her new school. But the angel is young and inexperienced and most of his help backfires. Wacky antics ensue.

Director Nguyen Quang Dung said he wanted to send the youth a message with the film: “Nobody’s perfect in the world, you’d better be yourself,” he says.

Dung also wrote and directed “Kiss of Death.”

Dung, who’s earned the nickname Dung khung (Crazy Dung) for his unconventional directorial techniques, had previously said his goal with the film was to become Vietnam’s highest paid director.

So he looked to Hollywood for inspiration.

“My film is like ‘High School Musical,’ ‘Mean Girls’ and many other films in its portrayal of youth. In addition, I pay homage to the ‘Harry Potter’ films in the depiction of student-teacher relationships. I was also influenced by the social relationships set up in ‘Shark Tale’.”

“Hot Kiss 2” is a musical, like “High School Musical,” and follows a young girl who wants to be popular, like “Mean Girls.”

Dung said he loved the conflict in “Shark Tale,” where the main character is born into a criminal family but has a kind heart. Such was the inspiration for his angel of death character, a young man who wants to live a peaceful life rather than taking lives.

The group of characters are all popular, pretty and talented singers such as Minh Hang, Chi Thien and Dong Nhi.

The film’s female lead Minh Hang is an actress and singer. She became famous for her role in the TV series Goi giac mo ve (Calling back the dream), for which she received a Ho Chi Minh City Television Award in 2008.

But skeptics say that without the superstars’ involvement and frenetic chemistry of the last film’s two leads – supermodel Thanh Hang and Vietnamese American actor Johnny Tri Nguyen – the film might be a disappointment.

One viewer commented, and others agreed: “Hot Kiss 2 is a fun and humorous movie for the Lunar New Year, but it’s just for teenagers.“

Dep tung centimet (Beautiful by the Centimeter)

“Beautiful by the Centimeter” tells the story of a photographer and a model who try to take advantage of each other to get what they want. But of course, they fall in love.

The film’s two leads, Tang Thanh Ha and Luong Manh Hai, have already worked together on the hit TV show Bong dung muon khoc (Suddenly I wanna cry) and are sure to win audiences hearts yet again.

The film’s director, Vu Ngoc Dang, also directed the TV series.

But the chemistry among the artists can’t conceal the vapidity of the film’s content. The artists seem content merely to have a bunch of kissing scenes inter cut with scenes of deception.

Most of the dialogue is annoying, long and boring and the characters only fall in love after Hai’s character (the man) cheats on Ha’s character in order to learn how to kiss.

But no specific details or situations lead viewers to believe their love is true.

All we’ll remember from this empty film are the kisses.

Many viewers said they didn’t even feel the emotion in the kisses, accusing the director of not understanding how to express real affection or feelings.

“The characters seemed to kiss too easily,” said one viewer.

“The film seemed forced. It was almost as if it was completed prematurely. Perhaps the artists used up all their grace in Suddenly I wanna cry. That creative energy is not reproduced and the film seemed rushed,” said journalist and writer Hai Mien.

“The director didn’t have any real goals. He just wanted to make a blockbuster.”

Huyen thoai bat tu (Legend Is Alive)

“Legend Is Alive” has a style all its own. Produced by Phuoc Sang Studio, Saigon Media and Wonder Boy Entertainment for $800,000, the hefty budget has added hype and expectations to the film, which stars Dustin Nguyen.

The film is about a young man who wants to bring his mother’s ashes back to America to bury her next to his late father’s tomb.

Though the film deals with serious issues such as Agent Orange and human trafficking, its also a martial arts flick at heart.

In all three films, the plot often ties itself into knots and problems aren’t resolved well enough, and we therefore fail to relate to the characters.

Reported by Bao Tran

A crew member aboard an Air Force C-5 cradles one of the Vietnamese orphans who was being flown out of Saigon during Operation Babylift. The babylift plane’s 1975 crash, which killed 138 people, including 78 orphans, remains the worst crash in the aircraft’s history. Courtesy of John W. Leland, Air Mobility Command historian

By Elizabeth Redden, Delaware State NewsDOVER – Open arms greeted the children who boarded the first flight of Operation Babylift in Saigon 31 years ago.

A rapidly advancing North Vietnamese army, closing in on an enemy near the end of a war that has forever lacked closure, prompted the United States to launch a last-minute effort to airlift thousands of orphaned children out of South Vietnam for adoption.

The children were handed up a ladder to a colossal Air Force C-5’s troop compartment from person to person, rung to rung.

Medical crews strapped them into chairs – six across each grouping of three seats – filling up the plane’s top level before securing the rest of the children along a ledge in the cargo hold below.

The ones upstairs in the troop compartment – most of whom would benefit from a gruesome stroke of luck – didn’t cry at the explosion, Col. Regina Aune, chief of the flight’s medical crew, remembers.

They were too young to see the shining South China Sea out of where the back of the plane should have been.

But for Col. Aune, it was a vista too perilous to want to see once, too unforgettable to not see again and again.

Monday’s C-5 crash near Dover Air Force Base stirred memories of the most famous – and fatal – C-5 accident in the history of the military’s largest plane.

Four C-5s have crashed since the cargo fleet went airborne in 1968.

Thirteen of 17 aboard died in a 1990 crash at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, while all 17 passengers and crew survived the Dover crash.

The passengers in a 1974 crash in Oklahoma were even luckier, with nary an injury, according to aircraft historian John W. Leland’s account of the disaster.

But the April 4, 1975, crash of the C-5, lined with its cargo of infants, stands out.

John Nance, an aviation analyst for ABC News, said Monday’s crash bears some resemblance to the one 31 years ago near Saigon.

Both planes crash-landed short of runways during emergency returns, and Mr. Nance suggested the possibility that both crashes resulted in part from disabled flight controls.

The South Vietnam crash occurred more than two years after the signing of the Paris Peace Accord in January 1973, as the United States struggled to deal with a war “over, but not finished,” as political scientist and historian Dr. Samuel B. Hoff said.

By April 1975, North Vietnamese troops had violated the conditions of the accord and were rapidly moving south.

In the face of an impending communist takeover, President Gerald R. Ford called for the immediate airlift of 2,000 orphans out of South Vietnam, said Dr. Hoff, a professor at Delaware State University.

Some would challenge the mission, saying it was a tool to garner support for the sitting South Vietnamese government or squeeze more military aid out of Congress, Dr. Hoff said.

Others charged that airlifting the children perpetuated notions of American cultural supremacy or constituted a last-ditch effort to gain sympathy for the war.

History would show that many of the youngsters likely were not orphans, Dr. Hoff said, and were in fact children of South Vietnamese officials who feared for their offspring’s lives after a communist takeover.

“Either way, it was a humanitarian mission,” Dr. Hoff said.

“It had good intentions.”

A survivor’s story

Col. Aune, then a 30-year-old first lieutenant and newlywed stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California, had only recently returned to duty from a honeymoon that skipped along the California coast, from Carmel to Monterey to San Francisco.

A member of the 10th Air Medical Evacuation Squadron, she was told early April 4 she’d be leading a medical crew on a flight that afternoon.

The crew flew from Clark Air Base, in the Philippines, to Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon, where they filled the plane with children.

The Air Force reports that 145 orphans and seven attendants were strapped into the troop compartment and 102 orphans and 47 others lined a ledge in the cargo hold downstairs.

Some children were only days old.

Col. Aune said she was based downstairs in the cargo compartment, but had climbed the ladder to get some medication.

While there, just a few minutes into the flight, the Air Force reports that an explosion blew off the plane’s pressure door, center cargo door and loading ramp.

Decompression filled the fuselage with fog and dust.

Most of the babies, Col. Aune reported, continued to sleep.

Air Force records said that Capt. Dennis “Bud” Traynor immediately turned back toward Saigon, where a crash landing in a rice paddy crushed the cargo deck, killing nearly everyone in that section.

A total of 138 aboard the doomed flight died, including 78 orphans.

With much of the impact absorbed by the cargo hold, the top of the plane skidded on the paddy “like a speedboat,” Col. Aune remembered.

“We were getting stung by the mud as we zipped through the rice paddies,” she said in a Thursday interview.

When it came to a stop, Col. Aune sprang into action, oblivious to the injuries she’d suffered.

Looking around, she saw a dead baby and a dead adult attendant, but almost everyone else was alive.

She helped carry 149 children to safety, according to the Air Force, and became the first woman to receive the Cheney Award, which recognizes a valorous act “in a humanitarian interest performed in connection with aircraft.”

It was only after grabbing a toddler by the seat of his pants to stop him from stumbling into the muddy water that she realized she couldn’t stand.

She said she can’t remember asking to be relieved of duty.

Col. Aune later learned that she had suffered a compressed vertebra in her back, a hole in her left leg, deep lacerations in her right arm, a broken right foot and lots of minor cuts and bruises.

Cut off from her seat in the doomed cargo hold after the explosion severed the ladder, she had to brace herself on the floor before the crash.

The impact threw her from one side of the compartment to the other end.

The crash stirred a vat of tensions during an already tense time.

“A lot of people said that kind of symbolized the futility of the war and the horror of the war,” Dr. Hoff said.

“A lot of people were assuming that everything was done in January 1973 when we signed the Paris Peace Accord and here we were again, seeing death and tragedy involving children.”

The building evidence that many of the children were never orphans led to a firestorm.

In material accompanying a film on the topic, “Daughter from Danang,” the Public Broadcasting Corp. reported that a class action lawsuit, ultimately dismissed, claimed the United States had an obligation to return the children to their families, many of whom had sent their young away under the duress of wartime.

“You often wonder whether the loss of life of the crewmembers and the children – was it worth it, in a way, was it a big mistake?” Col. Aune asked.

“I didn’t look at it that way. I’ve always believed the crewmembers that died didn’t give their lives in vain,” said Col. Aune, who now serves as chair of the Department of International Expeditionary Education and Training at Brooks City-Base in San Antonio.

About six years ago, she attended a reunion in Baltimore sponsored by three of the adoption agencies that handled the orphans.

She met three people who had survived the crash as children.

“Despite whatever obstacles they had to overcome, whatever difficulties they had to deal with as adoptees, it was their sense of hopefulness, their sense of gratitude to just have a chance to live a happy life or just have a chance of living at all,” she said.

“It confirmed for me that, indeed, as tragic as that event was, there was a lot of good that came from it.”

South Vietnam fell to communism April 30, 1975, just 26 days after the C-5 crash.

North Vietnamese troops overran the presidential palace in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City.

“The good news, if there is any, is there were apparently 29 more flights over the next week and a half,” Dr. Hoff said.

“They ended around April 14, and in fact, instead of President Ford’s target of 2,000, there were around 2,700 children that came to the U.S. Apparently 1,300 more were sent to Canada, various parts of Europe and Australia, for a total of 4,000 Vietnamese children.”

Post comments on this issue at

Staff writer Elizabeth Redden can be reached at 741-8247 or

08:18′ 24/11/2008 (GMT+7)

Noted figures of Vietnamese cinema are highlighted at the National Cinema Centre in the capital.

VietNamNet Bridge – An exhibition area focusing on the Vietnamese film industry has opened at the National Cinema Centre, Lang Ha Street, Ha Noi.

The new space aims to showcase classic Vietnamese films and actors. Posters of landmark Vietnamese films such as Canh Dong Hoang (The Wild Field), Chi Tu Hau (Sister Tu Hau) and Mua Gio Chuong (Season of the Whirlwind) are displayed on the first and second floor of the centre.

Visitors can view over 70 images of artists including People’s Artists, and award winners such as actress Tra Giang, actor Chanh Tin and director Dang Nhat Minh.

Through the posters, audiences can further understand the development of the Vietnamese film industry from past to present.

(Source: VNS)

Good girl gone bad
A shot of Van Anh (C) in a scene from Bong Dung Muon Khoc.

The loveable Tran Van Anh is now playing a devious and promiscuous bad girl on a hit TV show.

Model Tran Van Anh’s radiant smile has become a popular magazine cover and commercial image due to her friendly “good girl” quality.

But with her new role as a scheming seductress on the hit TV series Bong Dung Muon Khoc (Suddenly wanna cry), Anh has made sure she’ll never be typecast.

Before taking the role as her debut acting job, Anh turned down several opportunities to play virtuous, well-behaved girls.

She says she didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a boring actress that could only play innocent or meek girls.

Bong Dung Muon Khoc, directed by Vu Ngoc Dang, is about a romance between Nam, a rich but good-for-nothing young man, and Truc, a pretty but illiterate and stubborn girl who sells books on the streets.

By a twist of fate, Nam moves into Truc’s house.

Their diametrically opposed personalities and lifestyles initially clash, but the longer they live together, the more they understand each other and they eventually fall in love.

In the series, Anh plays Ngoc Diep, Nam’s ex-girlfriend, a pretty but mischievous and heartless girl who loves nothing but money, shopping and dressing scantily.

Diep is a perfect opponent for Truc, a beautiful, kind-hearted girl who always wears a white ao dai (traditional Vietnamese tunic) when selling books.

Diep harbors a grudge against Truc and often plays nasty tricks on her.

At first, even Tang Thanh Ha, who plays Truc and is also Anh’s best friend, said director Dang should not have chosen Anh for the part.

But the director stood by his choice and the rave reviews for Anh’s performance have so far proved him right.

“I’m lucky to have gotten the role,” Anh said, adding she had wished to have a chance to work with Dang ever since she saw his smash hit Nhung Co gai Chan Dai (Leggy girls) in 2004.

Dang, known for trademarks such as always having at least one rat in his films, has been true to form in Bong Dung Muon Khoc as he made Anh faint by making her re-shoot a scene 10 times in which a real dead rat gets stuffed down her shirt.

Makings of an actress

Twenty-three-year-old Anh was born in 1985 in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho.

She began her modeling career at the city’s Tay Do fashion club before working for P.L-Hoa Hoc Duong modeling agency in 2002.

She came to prominence when she nabbed the Mekong Delta region’s Hoa Hoc Duong (School Beauty) beauty queen contest and became Miss Fujifilm Vietnam one year later.

Then it was on to become 2005’s Miss Hazeline Vietnam before she performed at the Duyen Dang Viet Nam (Charming Vietnam) fund-raising gala in both Vietnam and Singapore.

Anh has become a popular MC on Binh Duong Television’s variety-talk-show Sac mau phu nu (The colors of women).

The model-turned-actress is set to star in Dang’s upcoming film Dep Tung Xen-ti-met (Beautiful in every centimeter), slated for release during the 2009 Lunar New Year season.

Reported by Hai Mien