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The White Silk Dress (Áo Lụa Hà Đông)

White silk dress image
Wednesday, December 9
6:30 p.m. – Korean Studies Auditorium

Spanning the turbulent period from 1954 to 1966, the controversial Áo Lụa Hà Đông begins in the picturesque town of Hà Đông just prior to the collapse of French colonial rule. The film follows the kind hunchback Gu (Quoc Khanh) and the beautiful servant girl Dan (Truong Ngoc Anh). After a brief courtship, but without the means to marry, Gu gives his “bride” the precious Áo Dài (national women’s garment in Viet Nam) he’s been carrying since childhood. Betrothed in their own eyes, the couple take flight after the assassination of Gu’s cruel master and start their new life together. Twelve years later, the couple struggle to support their growing family in the southern seaside town of Hôi An. Desperate to give her daughters the required Áo Dài to attend school, Dan turns to degrading jobs to earn money to purchase the cloth. With a luminous central performance by Bride of Silence star Truong Ngoc Anh as the resilient Dan, and utterly charming turns by the youngsters playing her spirited daughters (Nguyen Thu Trang and Tran Thien Tu), the film resonates as a tribute to the suffering and generosity of Vietnamese women symbolized by the Áo Dài’s cultural significance. Áo Lụa Hà Đông was Viet Nam’s submission to the foreign-language category at the Oscars and winner of the Audience Award at the Pusan International Film Festival in 2006. (Sources: Variety and

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