In a conversation with VSCO, filmmaker Maegan Houang explains that “In Full Bloom tells the story of Cecile, an elderly Vietnamese hoarder, whose life is upended when worms open a black hole in her house and threaten to take all her stuff. Inspired by my own personal experiences, the film is a surrealistic take on how the death of a partner leads to unresolved trauma and mental illness. The story is also partially inspired by my grandfather’s inability to remember that my grandmother died, frequently asking where she was in the middle of the night.”
Through a fantastical lens, Houang poses the question: Can a person ever truly overcome losing someone they love? Houang’s perceptive approach sheds light on the unique circumstances that affect Vietnamese Americans, particularly older individuals within the community.
Watch the film below:
According to the press release for the film: “In addition to the film’s spectacularly stylized set design, Houang opted away from CGI, utilizing practical effects (with VFX cleanup) to create the black hole, and using fishing wire to capture the pull of various objects into its orbit. Even the worms were stop-motion animated by Jason Whetzell, which serves to imbue the film with a darkly whimsical aesthetic.
In Full Bloom was created as part of the VSCO Voices grant in partnership with Access Ventures, which equipped five creators with funding and mentorship to tell the stories of marginalized communities in the United States through art. The opportunity to bring In Full Bloom to fruition further powers Houang’s drive to tell emotionally authentic stories, particularly ones that represent the female Asian American experience. Having Kiều Chinh (The Joy Luck Club) sign on to do the film was the icing on the cake for Houang. She enthuses: “Kiều has over five decades of contributions to the motion picture industry. I’m so incredibly grateful for depth of emotion she brought to the role of Cecile, someone who is desperately trying to keep alive the memory of the person they loved the most.””
Maegan Houang is a writer/director based in Los Angeles. She recently finished working on the Starz show Counterpart as a staff writer on Season Two for which she wrote episode 207 “No Strings Attached” and co-wrote the series finale “Better Angels” with creator/showrunner Justin Marks. Maegan has also directed several acclaimed music videos for artists such as Mitski, Charly Bliss, Chastity Belt and Skylar Spence. In 2018, she received a VSCO Voices Creator Grant to direct a short film she wrote In Full Bloom starring Kieu Chinh (The Joy Luck Club). It recently premiered online on Short of the Week and has played at film festivals such as the Atlanta Film Festival, Oak Cliff, Hollyshorts, LAAPFF and CAAMFest.
Amy Lam is the Deputy Editor for diaCRITICS.