Vietnamese Short Film To Participate In America’s Film Festival

“Supermarket Affairs” by Vietnamese director Nguyen Luong Hang is one of the four candidates from Southeast Asia competing at the ongoing Palm Springs International ShortFest, the largest film festival for short films in the US.
June 27, 2023 | 09:36

The film revolves around conflicts between a middle-aged Vietnamese immigrant woman and her Americanised adult daughter over the best way to honor her late husband on his second death anniversary.

Photo: Nguyen Luong Hang
Photo: Nguyen Luong Hang

The comedic and lusty narrative work previously joined the Spokane International Film Fest, Osaka Asian Film Festival, Seattle Asian American Film Festival, and CAAMFest.

The 2023 Palm Springs film fest lasts from June 20 to 26, with the organizer selecting 299 candidates out of the over 6,000 submissions from 129 countries worldwide.

Awards and cash prizes worth 25,000 USD, including five Academy Award-qualifying awards, will be announced on June 25. The Best of the Fest shorts will be screened on the final day, June 26.

Photo: Nguyen Luong Hang
Photo: Nguyen Luong Hang

Mrs Hoa is an elderly Vietnamese woman who has moved to Houston to live with her daughter, after the death of her husband from lung cancer. As we watch her shopping in a supermarket at the beginning of the movie, the first issues she faces are revealed. She does not speak the language, so any kind of communication is a problem for her. Ha, her daughter, who has worked to establish herself in the country and bring her in, does not have much time for her, and is dismissive of her wishes, as in the picking of a rooster instead of a hen for a ritual regarding the deceased. A frustrated Mrs Hoa finds solace in the appearance of a young Asian-American man, who immediately makes her dream of a supermarket romance. When a bit later, she returns to the store, this meeting takes a whole other turn.

Nguyen Luong Hang implements a fable-like approach to highlight the issues that concern the type of relationships presented in the movie. The language barrier is the most central one, but the generational gap is also eloquently highlighted, as much as the cultural one, which is presented by both the daughter and her boyfriend, John. The appearance of the young man is also implemented in a similar fashion, to show that Hoa may be old but is not yet dead, as much as that life goes on, which seems to be the final message of the 15-minute short, according to Asian Movie Pulse.

Photo: Nguyen Luong Hang
Photo: Nguyen Luong Hang

Probably the most interesting aspect here is the way Nguyen implements the coloring, in a way that mirrors Mrs Hoa's mentality. As such, the first scenes in the supermarket are as vivid as possible, to the point that the setting looks as much as a circus as a supermarket, in a rather amusing fashion that finds its apogee in the music video-like scene. The scenes in scenes in the house feature a more restrained palette, as much as the return in the store, only for intense brightness to close the short in the most meaningful way.

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