Viet Voice

Vietnamese International Film Fest Begins Thursday

by Kimberly Pham | April 2, 2013 | Bookmark +

Victor Vu's martial arts historical-fantasy feature, Blood Letter (Thiên Mệnh Anh Hùng), explores Vietnamese history as a young man attempts to clear his grandfather's name.

The sixth biennial Vietnamese International Film Festival (ViFF) kickstarts this Thursday (Apr. 4) in Irvine, Calif., with an incredible lineup of feature films, documentaries, and shorts from students and emerging and accomplished directors from all over the world. This year ViFF will feature 69 films, including 18 features, a record number of features either starring or directed by artists of Vietnamese descent.

In Andy DeJohn's short, Mother’s Milk (Sữa Mẹ), a young girl must learn to take care of her ailing mother in the Vietnamese countryside.

There are no nail salon-related films this year as there was two years ago, but I hope that doesn’t stop you from supporting the arts and making it out to check out some fantastic films.

“A high school wrestler embarks on his journey of self-discovery. Secrets behind the business of showbiz in Vietnam are tautly unveiled. A descendant of nobleman Nguyễn Trãi sets out on a crusade for a “blood letter” to avenge family members beheaded by the Queen. A child soldier in Africa fights for her life. A B-Boy perseveres with his dance crew on a quest to earn money for dad’s surgery. Laborer exploitation is uncovered in the national forests of Eastern Europe. Forgotten refugees recount their stories of surviving without legal status and teetering on the fringes of society for almost two decades in the Philippines.”

These are just some of the rich and vibrant stories that will unfold come this weekend and next.

The festival runs Apr. 4-7 and Apr. 11-14 with screenings in three locations: Edwards University Town Center 6 (Irvine, Calif.), Bowers Museum (Santa Ana, Calif.), UCI in the Humanities Gateway and Humanities Instructional Building (Irvine, Calif.), and at UCLA in the Neuroscience Research Building (Los Angeles).

In Cuong Ngo's Pearls of the Far East (Ngọc Viễn Đông), seven individual shorts follow women leads of varying ages and backgrounds, through the vastly different and stunning landscapes of Vietnam.

Check out the full program schedule at, with photos and synopsis of films as well as the dates, times, and locations of each film screening. For many of the screenings, the directors and actors may be present.

I hope to be inspired by some amazing stories.

— Kim

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