Holy Day (Ngày Lễ Thánh)

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Wednesday, 17 March
6:30 p.m. Korean Studies Auditorium

Viet Nam, 1976 (156 min)
Vietnamese with English subtitles
Dir: Bach Diep
Cast: Tra Giang, Nhu Quynh, Tran Phuong

Adapted from the novel Storm at the Seaside by Chu Van, this anti-Catholic melodrama set in North Viet Nam in the 1950′s presents a sweeping view of the early days of the post-French era. Woven into the story is the relationship between two sisters, Nhan and Ai, both of whom have been abandoned by their husbands. Nhan (Tra  Giang) lives in fear of breaking her bonds with the Church, while Ai (Nhu Quynh) struggles with the Church’s moral code and develops a relationship with another man. But Holy Day drives deeper than mere melodrama. Screenwriter and director Bach Diep takes us inside the massive social and political changes sweeping the north. We are witnesses to the infighting, even among families, as the Communist party begins to organize at the village level. Issues related to food production, distribution, and land management cause turmoil inflamed by local gossip and backstabbing that is barely tempered by the steady village cooperative chairman, Tiep (Tran Phuong). Throughout, political reactionaries working for the Church attempt to undermine Catholic support for the government in North Viet Nam, further dividing the population. Interspersed between these back stories are examples of epic film making (considering the period in which the film was made). You’ll marvel at the scene in which the entire village works to fill in reclaimed land before the sea tide washes away their labor.

This black & white classic has been translated by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and is being screened here for the first time with English subtitles.

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