French Perspectives on Contemporary Vietnamese Film, Art, and Writing
Two main centers of Vietnamese studies in France, the Insitut de Langues et Cultures Orientales (INALCO), and Paris 7 – Jussieu, came together to launch, for the first time ever, a joint series of conferences to celebrate and discuss the current state of Vietnamese Film, Art, and Writing. The first conference featured a working panel headed up by Professor Đoàn Cầm Thi , consisting of three members: director and poet Dạ Thảo Phương, filmmaker Trương Quế Chi, and novelist Thuận. Each artist presented excerpts from their work before engaging in a debate with the audience: Lady Piano by Dạ Thảo Phương, Black sun / Mặt trời đen by Trương Quế Chi, and T. a disparu by Thuận.
The panel of four Vietnamese women artists and scholars was a pleasant surprise for the packed audience; Vietnamese studies have long been dominated in France by male experts and artists – the dissident author Dương Thu Hương being an exception to the rule. All four panelists considered themselves “Vietnamese living in France” rather than being French-Vietnamese. Professor Đoàn Cầm Thi has proclaimed in previous conferences that the difference between being Vietnamese and being a Vietnamese abroad means very little, especially in artistic production.
I was conscious that the readership would be much broader and unfamiliar with the historical and political context against which much of Cabramatta’s gangs emerged, became Australia’s heroin capital and infamously led to Australia’s first political assassination.
But what does a one-night “takeover” of the Minneapolis Institute of Art by Southeast Asian/American artists and creatives look like? I wanted the evening to feel celebratory, unapologetic, and unexpected.
diaCRITICS is a blog that showcases voices and stories from writers, artists and culture-makers of the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian diaspora on and from all shores. We publish poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, visual art, and more. Our founding editor and publisher is Viet Thanh Nguyen. diaCRITICS is a project of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN).