Opening January 5, 2017
Directed by: Nguyen Phuong-Dan, Philip Widmann
Writing credits: Nguyen Phuong-Dan, Philip Widmann
Principal actors: Lé Thi Trong Ai, Lé Thi Hong Yen, Nguyen Thi Báo, Lé Thi Nho.
In Ninh Hoa, a small town in the southern part of Viet Nam, we find the Lé family: a grandmother, her two unmarried daughters and her third son, the only male in the household. Her first son went to Bonn, Germany, 40 years ago as a Vietnamese diplomat, where, after the Viet Nam war, he remained and where his children grew up. These children oversaw the building of a house for their father in Ninh Hoa, but he never returned. Now they are visiting their grandmother to decide what to do with the uninhibited, unused house of their father. The grandmother’s second son fell in the Viet Nam war between North and South and his body was never found. Besides selling the house, the niece and nephew are interested in researching the whereabouts of their lost uncle, including a visit to a medium who contacts the deceased. They sort family photos and record family history.
This is a slow quiet film with pauses to listen to the cheeping birds outside the house. The photography of the area is especially beautiful. The film is especially interesting for people, like myself, who have foreign origins. The problems of organizing from afar, rekindling family relations, and discovering one’s own roots is familiar. There is the question: where do I really belong? This film showed at the 2016 Filmfest Hamburg and has a definite Hamburg connection. Directors Philip Widmann (born 1980) and Nguyan Phuong (born 1982) studied visual communication together at the Hochschule für Bildenden Kunst (College of Art) in Hamburg, where their friendship and interest in making a mutual film grew. (Becky T.)