New Vietnamese Cinema 2015


Honolulu Museum of Art   Festival Site   Doris Duke Theatre 

Under the patronage of Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in conjunction with the Embassy of Vietnam in the U.S., the Vietnam Delegation to United Nations in New York, Honolulu Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Motion Picture of Association (MPA), NETPAC USA, Hawaii International Film Festival and Red Bridge Company, Vietnam Cinema Department has announced Vietnam Film Week in the U.S., 2015, a film festival aimed at celebrating 20 years of renewed relationships between Vietnam and the United States. The traveling festival kicks off a U.S. film tour in Honolulu July 5-10—as New Vietnamese Cinema.


Jackpot • Trúng Số

July 5 at 7:30 p.m. and July 7 at 1 p.m.
Doris Duke Theatre

Directed by Dustin Nguyễn. Vietnam. 2015. 92 min. Vietnamese with English subtitles.

Inspired by a true story, Jackpot (Trúng Số) is a heartfelt comedy directed by Vietnamese-American multi-hyphenate Dustin Nguyễn. Best-known to American audiences for his roles as Harry Truman Ioki on 21 Jump Street and as Johnny Loh on V.I.P., Nguyen has carved out a career as an independent filmmaker and actor in Vietnam, winning multiple awards and becoming one of the country’s most sought-after stars. With its star-studded cast full of much-loved comedians such as Tai Chi, Tan Beo and Kim Xuan, Jackpot was a box-office triumph in Vietnam when it opened in February. In Nguyễn’s second directorial effort, following 2013’s Once Upon a Time in Vietnam, Tu Phi (Tai Chi), fresh out of a 15-year prison sentence, meets Thom (Ninh Dương Lan Ngọc) a young lottery-ticket seller from his home village. She lends him money for the bus and convinces him to put pride aside and return to his ex-wife so that he has a roof over his head. From here they form a unique friendship, but when Tu Phi wins the big jackpot, his good fortune sets off a chain of events through their small peaceful village. When fortune falls into your lap, is it a blessing, or a curse? Can money buy happiness? Will Tu Phi’s and Thom’s friendship endure?

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Children of the Village • Những Đứa Con Của Làng

July 7 at 7:30 p.m. and July 8 at 1 p.m.
Doris Duke Theatre

Directed by Nguyễn Đức Việt. Vietnam. 2014. 89 mins. Vietnamese with English subtitles

In a small riverside hamlet in central Vietnam, 20 years after a wartime massacre decimated its population and destroyed the bridge connecting it to the opposite river bank, former guerrilla leader Mr. Thap (Trung Anh) cannot forget the pain of war. As head of the village—and a survivor of that massacre—he constantly reminds his fellow villagers of the importance of revenge. But for the next generation of villagers, including Thap’s own daughter and the son of the former village leader, whom he holds responsible for the massacre, thing are less clear cut. Through their trials and tribulations, the stubborn village elder finally discovers that community preservation may be the result of building bridges and repairing old wounds, not revenge.

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Panel Discussion

July 8 at 4 p.m.
Doris Duke Theatre

Audiences are invited to a free panel discussion on contemporary Vietnamese cinema, where they can learn about the experience of shooting films in Vietnam and efforts to cultivate future US-Vietnamese co-productions. This is a free event.


The Prince and Pagoda Boy • Khát vọng Thăng Long

July 8 at 7:30 p.m. and July 9 at 1 p.m.
Doris Duke Theatre

Directed by Lưu Trọng Ninh. Vietnam. 2010. 110 min. Vietnamese with English subtitles.

This lush historical drama recounts the life of Ly Cong Uan (Quách Ngọc Ngoan), from his youth as a Buddhist disciple to his ascension to Emperor of Vietnam in 1010 AD. Raised in a pagoda, kind and compassionate Ly Cong Uan dreams of serving in the Royal Court to help his country and people. His dream comes true and on his first day at the Royal Court, Ly Cong Uan befriends Long Dinh (Vu Dình Toàn) one of the princes of Vietnam. When King Le Dai Hanh passes away, his three sons skirmish for the throne. Long Dinh betrays his brothers to become king of Vietnam, and the violence shatters Ly Cong Uan’s vision of a righteous dynasty, but he realizes that he must serve the new king to bring peace to his country. Will a boy from the pagoda be able to save his country from fighting meaningless wars? The Prince and Pagoda Boy was released in 2010 to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Thang Long Imperial City (on the site that is now Hanoi) and was Vietnam’s 2011 entry for Best Foreign Language Oscar.

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Scandal I • Bí Mật Thảm Đỏ

July 9 at 6pm and July 10 at 1pm
Doris Duke Theatre

Directed by Victor Vu. Vietnam. 2012. 104 min. Vietnamese with English subtitles.

In this glossy thriller, Vietnamese-American director Victor Vu’s box-office sensation Scandal I casts a menacing spotlight on the big dreams and bigger conflicts of Vietnam’s entertainment industry. Ý Linh (Vân Trang) finds herself in competition with Trà My (Mai Thu Hường or Maya), a fast-rising model, singer and actress who doesn’t buy the starlet’s ingénue act. The two competitors go head to head for gigs but things take a sinister turn when a mysterious brain injury makes Ý Linh wonder if she has been cursed. As she loses everything to Trà My, including her husband, Ý Linh goes to the tabloids to accuse the other woman of using dark magic. After the husband commits suicide, Ý Linh begins to see her own death everywhere at the hands of her bitter enemy.

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Lost Eyes • Hiệp Sĩ Mù

July 9 at 9 p.m.
Doris Duke Theatre

Directed by Lưu huỳnh. Vietnam. 2014. 100 min. Vietnamese with English subtitles.

In the vein of recent Vietnamese action flicks like Rebel and Clash, Lost Eyes (Hiệp Sĩ Mù) draws on both American genre cinema and the tropes of martial arts revenge thrillers to give a dark action-filled morality tale fueled by dizzyingly fast-cut fight scenes and centered on a blind assassin hellbent on revenge. It’s John Wick meets Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman with Quentin Tarantino’s flair for likeably nasty bad guys and tongue-in-cheek nods to well-worn genre conventions. Award-winning Vietnamese-American filmmaker Luu Huỳnh (The White Silk Dress and The Legend Is Alive, which screened at the Honolulu Museum of Art in 2010) tells the story of Cuong (Bình Minh), an underworld peon who rises to become a master gangster, and Linh (Ngọc Thanh Tâm), a young girl who loses her sight and her family in one night. To reclaim what she has lost, including a photograph of her mother, Linh must find Cuong and exact revenge. Who will be the winner in the battle between a righteous blind warrior and a cruel gangster who has lost his humanity?

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Scandal 2 • Hào Quang Trở Lại

July 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Doris Duke Theatre

Directed by Victor Vu. Vietnam. 2015. 111 min. Vietnamese with English subtitles.

In the sequel to his box-office smash Scandal I (Bí Mật Thảm Đỏ), Victor Vu continues to draw the audience into the superficially glamorous and dramatic world of modern celebrity. When washed up actress Bella (Trang Nhung) decides to reclaim her youthful beauty by going under the knife, the operation goes horribly wrong and she ends up dead on the operating table. Flash-forward several months, just as the media and public are starting to forget the actress’s tragic story, and Bella suddenly re-enters the showbiz world, much to everyone’s shock and awe.

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