KVT appreciates the visual poetry offered by Doclab
I missed last summer’s Doclab screening of short films by young film makers from their Course IV so I was extremely glad that they decided on a re-screen in the depths of end of Tet winter. A capacity house at Goethe obviously agreed with me. If the quality of film making can be sustained then the viewing results of a Course V will be nice too.
Last year, on a cold January night, I enjoyed Doclab’s short films set around a Long Bien Bridge theme and last Saturday night had me similarly satisfied. Some of the Long Biens made it to international festival screenings and this year’s crop could well do the same.
To me there is a fuzzy boundary between video art and some documentary film and in the case of Bella Tran’s brief “Letter To….” the fusion was really nice. Her use of stills and action was poetic.
As I left the screening the word poetry was foremost in my mind as a succinct adjective about all of the films even those that provocatively probed into the social comment arena. ‘Living in Public’ by Dang Duc Loc was a powerful though poignant ten minute appraisal of communal living enforced on the inhabitants of a block of crumbling flats and ‘Remaining’ by Nguyen Tien Dat started the night’s viewing with a moving look at the desperation faced by owners of homes that stand directly in the path of road development. The sudden ending with its bleak and startling visual was worthy of a modern O. Henry.
What I liked was that all of the short pieces microscoped in on individual characters and even whenPham Ngoc Lam presented a film that used soundtracks of Vietnamese state radio broadcasts, the interlocking portraits of listeners and non listeners were fascinating. The scenes on a public transport bus were really nice. This one got my vote for best on the night.
It was around about the screening of the above that I became consciously aware of the visual poetry that eased from the films and I thought that ‘Lady Piano’ by Da Thao Phuong was a delicate paean on older women and aging.
Young and beginning film makers often have a primal need to hit their viewers about the head with strongly held ideas or ideologies and though this could have been done in Nguyen Huong Tra’s‘Marriage Prayer’ with its gender issues and Nguyen Phuong’s Thao’s lovely delving into into SEX and society, their poetic restraint gave the little films a nicely mature feel.
On reflection a couple of days later, I thought that“Colors’, a beautiful bit about families and coping with disability (in this case, blindness), by Do Ha Thu, sort of encapsulated the poetry that seemed to be a requisite end result of Course IV
Doclab instructors and mentors must feel that their efforts have been well rewarded.
Keep your eye on Doclab PR for future film events. One coming up in a couple of weeks looks unmissable.
As it’s full length film award time throughout the world I’ll give my choice of the four best English language movies that should ( but probably won’t) scoop the award pool: Terrance Mallick’s ‘Tree of Life’, Wim Wender’s ‘Pina’, Lars Von Trier’s ‘Melancholia’, and Lynne Ramsay’s’ ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’. All of which are wonderfully poetic.
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