A beautifully filmed 14-minute gay short is among this year's most entrancing films to screen at the Vietnamese International Film Festival this month in Orange County and the surrounding region, as Subversities resumes its blog after an hiatus.
Artistically directed by a youthful architect from Ho Chi Minh City, the film captures homophobic gossip in a small rural river-bound location just outside the metropolis the director resides, and its dark consequences for both a young boy and his gay uncle, who is an expert tailor - the target of malicious gossip.
The director, Nguyễn Đình Anh, 25, above and below, showed his film in his U.S. premiere late last month at Outfest Fusion - the People of Color permutation of the Los Angeles-based queer film festival. After the screening (with other shorts) at the ornate Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, the director was mobbed by appreciative fans (above), including film industry directors and actors. He was the star of the evening, grabbed by dozens at the post-film party just outside the theater, with many invites to meet up.
"Uncle & Son" (Hai Chú Cháu) - also known as "Uncle & Nephew" for the VIFF screening, is based on a short story of the same name by Huu Thang. According to the director, he wanted to show what life is like for gay people in rural Vietnam.
In just a few minutes, his short, set amidst a lyrical portrayal of rural Vietnam, brings out starkly the homophobic small-village atmosphere a gay man is likely to encounter just miles from the thriving gay nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City. Instead of seeing the faces of those making malicious comments as the boy travels by boat to school, the director has quite adroitly cut off their faces, so that only their voices are heard - creating an impression that everyone is against the boy's uncle.
Kudos to the kid, Tran Hoang Phi, who plays an innocent child - Hung - wondering if "marriage" would help his uncle. And to the handsome young man Ngo Nhat Truong, who plays his uncle - Chu Ba Lua - who has to hide his young male lover's photo from the nephew and everyone else.
The director told the Outfest Fusion audience he was happy his film was premiering in Hollywood. Dinh Anh told me he has dreams of pursuing a film career - and if he does - he will be an asset to any film studio that acquires his exquisite talent. Amazingly, the film was just shot in two days.
"Uncle and Nephew" screens 1 pm Saturday, April 6, at Edwards University, across from UC Irvine,on Campus Drive in Irvine. The film is shown with other shorts from Vietnam. For more information on the screening, see: Best of Yxine Film Festival.
- D. Tsang.