Pham Ngoc Lan is an emerging artist in Hanoi, Vietnam with a background in urban planning. Using film and photography as his two main tools of expression, his art attaches special importance to the direct, poetic and, especially, the whimsical aspects of human life. It is also associated with urban relationship issues, ranging from the minimal city landscapes to shifts in the citizens’ consciousness.
Lan’s first short film The Story of Ones (2011) screened at numerous film festivals and art museums, including Visions du Réel (Switzerland), CPH-DOX (Denmark), New Cinema and Contemporary Art - Rencontres Internationales (France), and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Japan). One year later, he was invited to the Programme for Creators Residency in Hokkaido, Japan, where he organized his first exhibition.
In 2015, Lan’s first short fiction project Another City (2016) joined the Short Film Station in Berlinale Talents, and later, the completed film was selected for the Berlinale Shorts Competition at Berlin International Film Festival 2016.
PHAN Dang Di
After graduating from the Faculty of Screenwriting at the Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema, Phan Dang Di began his career as an independent filmmaker and producer. His vision was to establish a team of young directors and create a ‘new wave’ of Vietnamese cinema.
His first short film, When I Am 20 (2006) was the first Vietnamese film to be selected for competition at Venice International Film Festival in 2008, while his feature script for Adrift (Bui Thac Chuyen, 2009) won the FIPRESCI Prize at Venice International Film Festival 2009.
Di’s Bi, Don’t Be Afraid (2010) was the first feature film on which he worked as a producer, screenwriter and director. The project won the Busan Film Commission Award at the Asian Project Market, Busan International Film Festival in 2007, and was selected for the Cannes L’Atelier in 2008. It was funded by the World Cinema Fund (Berlin International Film Festival 2008), Fond SUD, and Arte Cinema 2009. Bi, Don’t Be Afraid (2010) won two prizes at Critics’ Week at Cannes Film Festival in 2010 and many awards at other international film festivals, including Vancouver, Hong Kong and Stockholm.
Di’s second feature film, Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories (2015), was supported by the World Cinema Fund, Hubert Bals Fund and Hubert Bals Fund Plus, Fond Francophonie, and World Cinema Support. It had its world premiere in Official Competition at Berlin International Film Festival 2015.
Di is also a producer of Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (Diep Hoang Nguyen, 2014), which won Best Film at International Critics’ Week at Venice International Film Festival in 2014.
Besides his career as an independent filmmaker, Di has also taught film history and screenwriting at Hanoi National University, and he is an organizer of the Autumn Meeting, an international cinema event held in Da Nang, Vietnam since 2013.
Lady ‘M’ goes back to East Berlin to attend her German husband’s funeral, but by the time she arrives, the ceremony is already over. She has inherited two things: a porcelain cremation urn, and Cu Li - a slow loris originating from the Indochinese peninsula. Wandering around where her husband used to work, Lady M sees a woman who looks just like her sunbathing in a small penguin pavilion. She returns to Hanoi, perplexed.
On the day of the summer solstice, when a western fairytale-style miniature castle is constructed in the middle of an iceskating rink in Hanoi, Vân - a niece living with Lady M and Vân’s country boyfriend, Quang, are among the young people attending the opening ceremony. Later on, Vân finds out that she is pregnant with Quang’s baby.
When Lady M returns, she reacts angrily to Vân’s marriage plans. As Vân and Quang hastily prepare for the wedding, under pressure from the groom’s family, they accidentally knock over the cremation urn, and Quang replaces the ashes inside with dirt. Upset after an argument with Vân, Lady M takes the urn and leaves.
Lady M goes to the hydroelectric power plant where she first met her German husband, and where she scatters what she believes to be his ashes. She also decides to shave Cu Li’s fur, following people’s advice.
Finally, Vân and Quang’s bizarre wedding takes place in a tropical forest. Quang’s mother hosts the event, in spite of being critically weak and thin as a rake. Vân, heavily pregnant, is exhausted by the wedding celebrations. Lady M’s sudden visit with Cu Li eases Vân’s anxiety. Nobody realizes a fire is spreading and swallowing up the wedding stage.