From Afar: Across the cinema of Vietnam and France

  • November 20, 2022 | 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM | Sunday
  • Oldham Theatre


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This talk will take place in-person at Oldham Theatre and will be free. Please check out a free ticket to register your place. Please note that only the moderator and curator of the programme, Trương Quế Chi, will be in-person at Oldham Theatre. The rest of the speakers will be joining us remotely. 

From Afar: Across the cinema of Vietnam and France is a panel discussion that will be held on Sunday, 20 November 2022 at Oldham Theatre as part of the programme Echoes, Embers: A Story of Vietnamese and French Cinema. The discussion will be moderated by Trương Quế Chi, the co-curator of the programme. They will be joined remotely by Trần Phương Thảo, an independent documentary filmmaker, Đỗ Văn Hoàng, a filmmaker, and Đào Lê Na, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Literature, Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City. 

About the talk 

“Instead of trying to invade Vietnam with some generosity, which is forcing things inevitably, as a movie-maker the best I can do for Vietnam is—on the contrary—letting Vietnam invade us,” commented Jean Luc Godard in Camera-Eye, a segment of the 1967 omnibus film Far From Vietnam (Loin du Vietnam). Produced by Chris Marker, the film was realised by a group of leftist directors to voice support for North Vietnam against the presence of the US military in the country. Godard’s commentary is a layered reflection on the practice of filmmaking itself, in regard to the omnibus’ overall prompt. 

A nod to Godard’s contribution, the panel discussion From Afar: Across the Cinema of Vietnam and France was conceived to enlarge upon the story of a cinematic entanglement as sketched by the programme Echoes, Embers. The event features filmmakers, researchers and curators who were born and grew up in postwar Vietnam—and who experienced Vietnamese cinema in the era following the country’s economic reforms, where state- and privately-funded film studios would later be joined by the emergence of independent filmmaking practices. 

Through personal insights and discussions of the films within and outside the scope of Echoes, Embers, the panel will attempt to outline the relationship between the cinema of Vietnam and France. The intricacies therein have been instrumental to movements in ways of thinking and making films, in film education as well as film production, for both fiction and documentary works in Vietnam—standing on par with the influence of Soviet cinema in the past. 

And thus this event explores: amongst others, the nearly twenty-year-long venture of the Vietnamese chapter of Atelier Varan, the Paris-based documentary filmmaking training network founded upon ethnographer and filmmaker Jean Rouch’s proposition, during which time cinéma-vérité as a style has altered Vietnamese documentary filmmaking. Elsewhere, how has a contemporary filmmaker, trained in Vietnam’s longest-standing film school, responded to the spirits of Godard, Carax, Garrel, or Modiano, via his works? As we re-examine collective memory, how shall we discuss the French filmmakers’ reconstruction of colonial Vietnam landscapes and memories on screen? 

In this panel discussion, stories are like portraits of people, of filmmaking practice, of perspectives. From afar, crossing, to reflect on filmmaking.

About the Speakers

Born in 1977, Trần Phương Thảo is a Vietnamese independent documentary filmmaker. She studied Documentary Film at the University of Poitiers, French Republic. Trần Phương Thảo is one of the important figures behind the Vietnam affiliation of Ateliers Varan. She has worked with Swann Dubus on several documentary films following the stories and people in contemporary Vietnam. Notable works: Worker’s Dream (2006, Pierre and Yolande Perrault Grant, Cinéma du Réel, 2007); With or Without Me (2011, White Goose Prize, DMZ International Film Festival, Korea, 2012); Finding Phong (2015, Nanook Grand Prix, Jean Rouch Film Festival 2015); Pomelo (2019).

Đỗ Văn Hoàng was born in Hai Phong. He graduated from the University of Theatre and Cinema at Hanoi. For over the past ten years, he has been making films and writing poetry. His short documentaries and short films include: Underneath it All (2010), At Water’s Edge (2010), A Film on Sofa (2012), A Silent Shout (2015), False Brillante (2015), Drowning Dew (a collaboration with Art Labor Collective, 2017), Sleep And Behold (2018), Man’s Uniform (2020) and they have been shown at Hanoi Docfest, Yamagata Film Festival, Centre Pompidou, Times Museum Guangzhou, The Mistake Room LA, Lumbung Film-Documenta15.

Đào Lê Na, Ph.D in Literary Theory and Criticism. She is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Literature, Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City. Her research orientation: Film studies, Arts studies, Adaptation studies, and Vietnamese Culture. Her most recent publications include Screenwriting Techniques, (Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City Press, 2020), Contemporary Japanese and Vietnamese Cinema: Cultural Exchanges and Influences, (chief editor, The Information and Communication Publishing House, 2019), The Horizon of Pictures: From Literature to Film through the Case of Kurosawa Akira, (Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City Press, 2017).


Trương Quế Chi, co-curator of Reframe: Echoes, Embers, is an artist and curator working in the domains of cinema, visual arts, and performing arts. She has participated in various film festivals and exhibitions. Chi is an M.A. graduate of Film Studies from the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle and a film lecturer at the Hanoi University of Theatre and Cinema. Since 2015, she has been a board member of the Hanoi-based artist initiative Nhà Sàn Collective.