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.
The Bug is an assertion of paradoxes, a result of a hybrid refugee experience, embodying the fluctuating inside/outside perspective of the transnational being. S/he longs for stillness while on a constant journey.
This is the argument I’m trying to make, that there’s a lot to be grateful for. There’s already that calmness, there’s already that life. What I did at that stage in my life, which was only a few months ago, I just tried to look closer to home, and thought, “this could be a lot worse.”