Starting Place (Point de Départ) (1994)
Director: Robert Kramer
Runtime: 90 minutes
Languages: English, French, Vietnamese
Rating: NC16 (Some Nudity)
International Critics Award
LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 1993
The film opens with an astonishing portrait of Linda Evans, an American political activist with a forty-year prison sentence to her name. It then takes us to early-1990s Hanoi in the form of a travelogue documenting a country’s endeavor to lift itself up from wartime losses, exploring what remains, and all the fervor of a new era to come. Here we encounter faces and voices: of Hanoi-based intelligentsias who convey the ideals to which their entire generation has devoted wholeheartedly. Of a woman who carries three tons of brick a day, bareback. Of women in their early twenties aspiring to live their own lives. Of young, passionate filmmakers contemplating the arts and the current state of affairs.
25 years after The People’s War (1969), documentarian Robert Kramer returned to Hanoi. Setting out as a revisit, the film gradually evolved into the search for something unbeknownst.
Worker’s Dream (Giấc Mơ Là Công Nhân) (2006)
Director: Trần Phương Thảo
Runtime: 52 minutes
Rating: PG13 (Brief Coarse Language)
Bourse Pierre et Yolande Perrault
CINEMA DU REEL 2007
Young women from the countryside dream of becoming workers in the city of Hanoi. Having travelled far by bus, they find themselves stuck in a limbo between temporary and low-paying jobs even after paying high job agency fees.
Stemming from the first Vietnamese edition of French documentary workshop Ateliers Varan, Worker’s Dream exposes the struggle of the working class in a cut-throat capitalistic environment, where profit is synonymous with progress. It attempts to portray female characters as both juggling with their lives and having autonomy through direct interaction with the camera. Walking while they dream and dreaming while they walk, these women bear witness to a seemingly futuristic and bygone Vietnam, and to them, in their words, “(I thought I was lost in) another world.” Worker’s Dream was the debut feature of Trần Phương Thảo, a notable figure of Vietnamese independent documentary following in the cinéma-vérité practice.
For the full ECHOES, EMBERS: a story of Vietnamese and French Cinema programme, please visit here.
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