Nguyen-vo Minh grew up in a small town in South Vietnam during the war. To escape fighting he spent most of his youth in a small cinema that his family had owned for three generations and is the inspiration for this project. Nguyen-vo arrived in France in the last month of the war with a scholarship. After graduating with a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering from University of Poitiers, Nguyen-vo continued his study in the US in Physics, earning a Ph.D. from UCLA. While working in quantum electronics, he ventured into visual arts and modern dance. Cinema finally came back to him, energizing him to dedicate his life to filmmaking fulltime. His first film, Buffalo Boy (2004) won the Youth Jury Prize in Locarno Film Festival 2004 and was Vietnam’s entry for the Academy Awards 2006. His second film Nuoc 2030 (2014) was selected as the opening night film in Panorama at the Berlin International Film Festival 2014.
NGUYEN Bao, NGUYEN-VO Minh
Nguyen Bao is a filmmaker based in Saigon whose past work has been seen in the New York Times, on NBC, Vice, ARTE, and PBS, among many others. He was the co-producer of Where Heaven Meets Hell (Sasha Friedlander, 2011) won numerous awards including the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Documentary Film, a Special Jury Award for Outstanding Cinematography at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2012, and the Halekulani Golden Orchid Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Hawaii International Film Festival 2012. He produced Nuoc 2030 (2014), a feature narrative set in near future Vietnam that was opened in Panorama at the Berlin International Film Festival 2014 and was a recipient of the Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Fund 2013. He is an alumnus of the 2012 and Berlinale Talent Campus 2014. He earned his BA at NYU and his MFA at SVA in New York City.
South Vietnam, Vung Tau, 1965. An eight-year-old boy, Quang, rediscovers through the memory of his mother the glorious past of his maternal grandfather who inaugurated the family’s cinema or ‘picturehouse’ in 1933 during the French colonization. It was closed down during the war of independence that ended the French colonization of Vietnam in 1954 and divided the country into North and South. In a desperate financial situation, Quang’s parents borrowed money to reopen the ‘picturehouse’ in 1965 when the Allied troops arrived to fight communism in an American-led war. Amid the screeching sounds of American military aircrafts and gunshots from the Australian troop target practice, Quang and the audience in this small town are mesmerized by the exotic images and stories from America, Europe, Japan and India. ‘Picturehouse’ becomes the place where Quang discovers the secret of cinema, makes friend, discovers love and sex as the bloody battle goes on outside. Realistic sounds of overflying helicopters and rocket firings enhance the dull soundtrack of the WWII film that Quang watches with his sweetheart. When President Nixon announces the Vietnamization of the war by withdrawing American troops, Quang’s friends are drafted to the battlefield and killed as Quang struggles through his sexual awakening, amid rampant prostitution, drug and desperation. In the inferno of what was supposed to be the Cold War, the ‘picturehouse’ remains a place for the people to see their lives, hopes, and love reflected on the screen albeit just for a few fleeting hours.