Monday, April 11, 2011

Filmmaker with Conscience Khoa Do; Hazards of Nail Salons

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Director Khoa Do embraced by a fan after his film screened at VIFF 2011. Photography &c Daniel C. Tsang 2011

He's a Viet Kieu filmmaker with conscience. Hailing from Australia, and emerging as one of the most exciting new filmmakers from the Vietnamese diaspora, Khoa Do presented "Mother Fish," his dramatic and creative take on the boat people's exodus to the West at the 5th Vietnamese International Film Festival ongoing at various venues in Southern California, including UC Irvine. As he discusses in the interview, he made this film to counter anti-refugee prejudice in Australia against a current wave of boat people from more current wars.

We talk with this award-winning director who charmed audiences at the last VIFF with his Footy Legends, about a multi-ethnic sports team, with a strong background in community service as a volunteer in a community-based organization in Sydney, where he made an earlier documentary, Finished People, about homeless people on the streets.

Khoa was named the 2011 VIFF Spotlight Award winner Saturday at a special event co-sponsored by Vietnamese American Community Ambassadors and the UCI Libraries Southeast Asian Archive prior to that evening's showing of Mother Fish.

The festival continues at UCLA, Bowers Museum (free to high school students) and UC Irvine. Among the films is "Touch," directed by Minh Duc Nguyen, a feature film about romantic liaisons among Vietnamese nail salon workers and their clients. It screens Saturday, 16 April 2011 at 7:30 p.m. HIB (Humanities Instructional Building) 100 on the UCI Campus.

For the second half of Subversity, we air Making Contact's report on the Toxic Truth about Nail Salons. It focuses on the health effects of prolonged chemical exposure on the salon workers and the move toward "greener" salons.

Also showing at VIFF is director Nguyen-Vo Nhiem Minh's second Vietnam production, Don't Look Back, a ghost story that is a takeoff on the Orpheus myth. Nguyen-Vo, who was last on Subversity discussing his "Buffalo Boy", is a scientist turned Vietnam filmmaker. Don't Look Back screens the same day, Saturday 16 April 2011 at 4 pm at HG (Humanities Gateway) 1070 on the UCI campus.

Subversity airs this evening from 5-6 p.m. on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County, and is simulcast via

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