As part of the Glasgow Short Film Festival 2018
Southeast Asia is one of the focal points of the Glasgow Short Film Festival 2018. A highlight within the programme is a short film selection from the Hanoi-based experimental filmmaker and documentarian Nguyen Trinh Thi. Her work is also featuring in the festival with an installation entitled Everyday’s The Seventies, at the Intermedia Gallery in the CCA.
The short film programme begins with I Died for Beauty. This is a succinct and abstract meditation on beauty, where we view a man giving a tour of a factory. This footage is soundtracked by extravagant opera and classical music, which works as counterbalance to the images. Here beauty is presented as something that is seen as well as heard and the video footage challenges the audience to consider this.
The use of found footage continues with the 2016 short Eleven Men where we see a series of films featuring the actress Nhu Quynh. The film is accompanied by the reading of a text by Franz Kafka in which a father describes his eleven sons. Visually we see an actress taking on different roles, but as with I Died For Beauty, what we hear opposes what we see and this presents something new and confrontational to the viewer.
The final film in the screening is Letters from Panduranga. This 35-minute short investigates the construction of two nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuận in Vietnam (formerly known as Panduranga). The building of these power plants will destroy the heritage of the area and Nguyen Trinh Thi uses a variety of themes and images to present an engrossing essay film. Landscapes, artefacts, objects and people all find their way into the investigation where the subject matter is presented by weaving together several narrative strands. The technique assists in conveying the importance of the topic and presents ideas of colonialism, power and history in a unique and distinctive style.
The three films in this selection, along with the Everyday’s The Seventies installation, show that Nguyen Trinh Thi is a vibrant and interesting filmmaker who tackles personal and delicate subjects in a subversive and interesting way.