21 A Shade of Paradise
Drama / HD / English / Vietnamese / 90 mins
Director: PHAM Siu
Producer: NGUYEN Hoang Diep
HAF Goals: Funds, Co-producers, Pre-sales
Budget: US$414,275
Secured Budget: US$87,750
Director’s Filmography:
2013 Homostratus
2010 Here... or There?
Two teenagers in present-day Vietnam face the rough, comic and nostalgic realities of a society in
wild stages of development as they lose their virginity and come of age.
A small city of Vietnam.
A handful of musicians playing traditional funeral
music lead a procession of two coffins trailed by
two adolescents, Mai, the girl, is 17 years old and,
Vinh, her young brother, 15, are on the way to the
Left alone abruptly, from now on, they have to
leave school and find a job to survive.
In a popular bar, Mai meets two strangers who find
themselves lost in Vietnam, having left their country
to another in search of cheap, easy living. She takes
them home.
Vinh finds a job as servant to an old, blind dancer
who lives alone in an enormous run-down house.
Mai lets each of the two men into her room at
night, one at a time. She casually loses her virginity
to them without feeling.
Vinh, meanwhile, has entered the strange world of
an eccentric blind dancer from a bygone era. He is
drawn to this fading world that evokes nostalgia for
Seeking employment, Mai answers some hiring tests,
without success.
Given their precarious situation, the two strangers
seize on the idea that the blind dancer must have
hidden money somewhere in her house. They
pressure Vinh to find out what can be stolen from
the old lady.
Under their pressure, Vinh lies that he knows the
hiding place, but says he will call the police if these
strangers don’t leave.
In the night, lightning flashes on the old lady’s house,
while the two strangers leave town.
The next morning, when Vinh goes to the house of
the old blind dancer, an ambulance is there taking
the body of the old lady out.
Once again, two adolescents face the stark reality
of their situation, but this time, they are without the
“virginity” and innocence of their childhood.
The film opens with the sudden death of both
parents – signifying a vacuum of moral authority as
the two teenagers are left alone and unprepared for
life. Their topsy-turvy transition to adulthood makes
for an intense state where “normal” is suspended,
and life is encountered as a kind of game. The
line between acceptability and deviance becomes
Between the realities of survival and the hopes of
their idealised youth, they meet the difficulty of
finding a job.
The state of the world is reflected in the situation
of the two strangers looking to escape the harsh
conditions of their homeland, by traveling to a
country where living is much less expensive. Yet
their circumstances are still desperate enough to
move them to commit robbery or murder.
of Geneva and later attended Conservatory of
Popular Theater in Geneva. She received Butoh
dance training with Myriam ZOULIAS for several
years. Her well-known fiction features included Here
or... There? (2010) and Homostratus (2013).
NGUYEN Hoang Diep
Born in 1982, NGUYEN is a prominent face
among the independent filmmakers in Vietnam.
In 2008, NGUYEN founded VBLOCK Media, an
independent studio focused on producing art films
and experimental projects. From 2010 to 2013, her
first feature film Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere
premiered at Venice Film Festival and won the
FEDEORA Award as Best Film of the 29th Venice
International Film Critics’ Week. The film has been
invited to many famous international film festivals,
including Toronto and Busan.
Production Company
And the old blind dancer in an immense dilapidated
house symbolises the lost universe of artistic and
poetic old values.
Sexuality in this film is intentionally non-conforming.
During adolescence, sexuality can be anything or
everything. It belongs to his (or her) inner shade of
Paradise or of Hell. The sister decides, causally, to
lose her virginity. The brother has his first sexual act
with the dancer, an embrace of his lost mother.
Founded in 2008 by several young filmmakers,
VBLOCK Media has been persevered in becoming
an independent studio for art films and experimental
projects. VBLOCK maintains its operations by
performing and producing profitable audiovisual
products in areas such as commercials.
The film never bases its narrative expression on
actions but on their consequences. The intention is
to take what happens to these characters and reveal
these situations in their metaphorical form.
In 2009, VBLOCK Media co-produced the
independent film Bi, Don’t Be Afraid! by director
PHAN Dang Di. In 2014, Flapping in the Middle of
Nowhere by NGUYEN Hoang Diep premiered at
Venice and then won the FEDEORA Award as Best
Film of the Critics’ Week. VBLOCK Media is now
implementing other independent film projects.
This will be used to show the spirit of a young
generation who faces rough reality by passive
responses. This attitude reflects a society
approaching development, which one day to
another lost its old values for the savage meaningless
of a new life... A real-time approach allows for the
natural expression of these soul-moving characters,
permitting the viewer to accept the tempo of
Screenwriter and director PHAM Siu (PHAM Thi
Nhung) is among the rare female filmmakers in
Vietnam. She studied History of Art in the University
R12A05, A2 Block 54, lane 85,
Ha Dinh street, Thanh Xuan,
Ha Noi, Vietnam
Tel: +84-912061950
Email: [email protected]
[email protected]
Mai begins to apprentice at a hairdresser job, but
she is fired after two days. Vinh tries to work as
motorbike-keeper or shoes-cleaner in vain.
his mother. They end up making love – it is his first
sexual experience.
Director’s Statement