Reading lists, conversations, and other texts
Reading lists, conversations, and other texts
Trinh T. Minh-ha Film Club #4: A Tale of Love (1995)July 23rd, 2020
hosted by Shaelyn Hanes and Emily Markert
hosted by Shaelyn Hanes and Emily Markert
The Trinh T. Minh-ha Film Club is a weekly viewing party to screen one of Trinh’s films, with shared materials that help us understand and appreciate it, whether a passage from a piece of literature, a video clip, or a text that addresses Trinh’s work directly.
As we watch, we have a live discussion about how our research relates to the film and highlight points of interest. Viewers are invited to join the discussion in the live chat or simply watch. Through our conversation, we identify motifs that carry us to the following week’s film.
0:42 Shaelyn Hanes: Hi I’m Shaelyn. I’m a second year graduate student in CCA’s Curatorial Practice Program and one of the Wattis Curatorial Fellows.
0:56 Emily Markert: Hello! I’m Emily. I’m also in the Curatorial Practice graduate program and work alongside Shaelyn as a Curatorial Fellow.
1:48 CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts: This is fourth and final screening as part of our Trinh T. Minh-ha Film Club series.
[FILM BEGINS AT 4:44]
5:18 Shaelyn Hanes: These are the closing lines of The Tale of Kiều, the Vietnamese epic which A Tale of Love is loosely structured around.
5:21 Shaelyn Hanes: Written by Nguyễn Du in 1820, The Tale of Kiều is widely considered the most significant work of Vietnamese literature.
5:35 Shaelyn Hanes: It tells the tragic story of Vương Thúy Kiều, who gets trapped in a cycle of brothels, men who want to marry her, and enslavement in order to free her family, who were framed.
5:42 Shaelyn Hanes: We will hear lines from The Tale of Kiều sung in Vietnamese throughout the film.
6:04 Emily Markert: Trinh created this film in 1995, by which time she had well established her reputation as a filmmaker. A Tale of Love was shot on 35mm with equipment donated by Panavision.
6:11 Emily Markert: Last week’s film, Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989), was shot on 16mm with a significantly smaller budget.
6:38 Shaelyn Hanes: Here we meet Trinh’s modern day Kiều. Notice that she is behind a veil in this opening scene.
6:44 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh writes, “I would say that in A Tale, more than in my previous films, what is visible and audible can prevent one from seeing and hearing. What continues to elude us is the fact that the image is in itself a veil; so is the ‘dialogue,’ especially when it appears all too obvious at first reception.”
8:36 Emily Markert: If you tuned in last week, you know that subtitles are a tool Trinh uses to interrogate ideas of translation and also traditional filmmaking techniques.
8:50 Emily Markert: In A Tale of Love, the dialogue is translated for us on-screen, but the story of the film itself is a translation, too.
8:56 Emily Markert: Seen in this way, translation is not just about interpreting, but also creating meaningful exchange.
10:29 Shaelyn Hanes: Notice how Kiều just smelled the letter from her mother. Trinh references scent throughout the film, often as a way of summoning memory and evoking the sensation of love.
10:35 Shaelyn Hanes: She writes: “...it seems that the time when, despite oneself, one becomes oversensitive and one's senses are wildly awoken, is when one is in the state of being in love. Since the film enacts this state, with all of its lucidity and its silliness, it is important to dedicate a large part of the film to the importance of smell”
12:39 Emily Markert: At certain moments throughout this scene, the music is as loud as or louder than the speakers in front of us.
12:53 Emily Markert: Trinh always tries to work against what she sees as the film industry’s “hierarchy between eye and ear,” wherein most film soundtracks are meant to simply underscore the images. In her words:
13:02 Emily Markert: “In my practice, you have the same 'rawness' in the visual footage as in the sound recorded when you come to the editing table. Both are given the same importance as sometimes it is the image that determines the cut and other times it is the sound that dictates the unfolding of images.”
14:40 Emily Markert: Just 10 minutes into the film, we have learned Kiều plays many roles in her life: daughter, writer, painter, friend.
14:45 Emily Markert: The figure of Kiều plays many roles for Vietnamese women, too, as the story is widely read and revered. We heard this from Trinh in the narration of Surname Viet, too.
16:43 Shaelyn Hanes: Voyeurism is a key theme throughout this film. Through Trinh’s narrative, we witness the enactment of the male gaze as personified in the photographer, Alikan.
16:49 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh also draws our attention to our own complicity in watching without being watched as viewers.
17:09 Emily Markert: Is A Tale of Love a love story or simply a story? Trinh writes: “‘…the entire history of narrative cinema is a history of voyeurism, and no matter what form it takes…the art of narrative cinema is unequivocally the art of resurrecting and soliciting love. A friend of mine once said that ‘all the books written and stored in the libraries are in fact one single book.’…You can never capture love or death on film, they are what I call, in A Tale, the two impossibles.”
17:58 Shaelyn Hanes: In A Tale of Love, Trinh has noted that she used “a space of acting whose slightly denaturalized performance would hit on very different sensitive chords in our reception of narrative film. It was more a question...of performing with the unknown (what is veiled to our ear and eye) within the appearance of the known.”
18:19 Shaelyn Hanes: The self-consciousness of the actors and script in A Tale of Love point to our role as spectators while exploring the types of freedoms that may be found in constrained spaces.
18:55 Emily Markert: “You have a beautiful voice” is a phrase we will hear repeated throughout the film.
19:02 Emily Markert: Knowing Trinh’s affinity for sound and music, consider the significance of this character who is drawn to Kiều because of her voice rather than her appearance.
19:33 Shaelyn Hanes: I find this moment when Kiều randomly sings one note to be so strange and funny. Trinh describes her films as holding a dimension of humor that is apparent to some audiences and lost on others.
19:36 Shaelyn Hanes: She writes of humor as “subtle, barely present, yet disturbing, tragic, anarchic, dissociative, moving and deconstructive.”
19:59 Shaelyn Hanes: San Francisco viewers may recognize the backdrop of this scene as the North Beach neighborhood. Here we see Kiều walk past landmarks such as The Stinking Rose and Caffé Roma.
20:29 Emily Markert: We have mentioned the significance of walking in every Film Club. Here, as Kiều walks alone down the street at night, she embodies female mobility and freedom.
20:33 Emily Markert: From Trinh’s films to Jane Austen novels to protest marches, women walking can serve as a potent symbol of both vulnerability and power.
20:42 Emily Markert: But even in this moment of freedom, she is overwhelmed by the audio of a conversation about her familial and financial responsibilities. Can women really achieve freedom?
20:50 Emily Markert: This is a question posed by Surname Viet, too, specifically about Vietnamese women.
21:43 Shaelyn Hanes: In The Tale of Kiều, Kiều is repeatedly manipulated into working as a sex worker in different brothels. By likening her model work to sex work, Trinh’s Kiều identifies with the mythic character.
22:09 Emily Markert: Professional model is yet another role Kiều plays. Scholar Lan P. Duong says, “inhabiting all of these roles, [Kiều] represents a metonymic figure for diasporic women and their storytelling agency.”
23:09 Shaelyn Hanes: Of The Tale of Kiều, Trinh writes:
23:21 Shaelyn Hanes: “For me, it’s exceptional that the national poem of Vietnam is a love poem rather than an epic poem, and that the figure her people persistently choose to represent their collective self is that of a woman. What people see in the character of Kiều is a model of loyalty, sacrifice and victimization; one they fully apply to their personal situation and to that of their country, which has been geographically and historically a much coveted prey to foreign dominators.”
24:16 Shaelyn Hanes: These intimate scenes are matted in a way that points to the voyeurism that we participate in as viewers of a love story. Is this Kiều and Alikan?
24:28 Shaelyn Hanes: Regardless of who we are watching, this scene demonstrates what Trinh calls “the politics of the veil” by removing the characters’ and actors’ vision, leaving the audience to encounter their own.
24:36 Shaelyn Hanes: She writes: “The veil is oppressive, but it can also become a form of resistance.... The way we all partake in the politics and aesthetics of veiling is complex and often paradoxical.”
24:44 Shaelyn Hanes: Alikan’s statement about the color of the woman’s breasts is intended to be a clue to the blindfolded woman’s identity.
25:59 Emily Markert: The relationship between women and nationalism in Vietnam is the primary subject of Surname Viet. This description of the story of Kiều offered by the Tale Of narrator ties these two films together.
26:10 Emily Markert: It also speaks to the importance of oral history in Vietnamese culture and how women are often responsible for transmitting that history.
26:26 Emily Markert: To quote Lan P. Duong again, “With its emphasis on women’s oral discourses, the film underlines how women in the diaspora translate the archetypal figure of Kiều in their own ways, authoring and performing scripts of Kiều that counter the masculinist, nationalist narratives about her.
…These acts of translation and oral transmission by women lay the foundation for Trinh’s formulation of a feminism that renarrates the story of Vietnamese nationalism as told through Kiều.”
27:29 Shaelyn Hanes: It's important to note that in this scene, the voyeur is a woman.
28:49 Shaelyn Hanes: This long, continuous shot scene that pans up, down and across physical space seems to again highlight our position as voyeurs.
28:54 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh notes: “There is not a single shot-reverse-shot in the entirety of this feature- length film, and what may become perceptible when the camera stays fixed on two actors in dialogue, or when it passes by them in a mercilessly slow movement, is the very space of viewing and of performing.”
32:04 Emily Markert: Notice that Juliet, the editor of a women’s magazine, is the character through which Trinh explores ideas of fragrance, femininity, and memory.
32:24 Emily Markert: Trinh cites perfume samples found in women’s magazines as a starting point for this association.
33:13 Emily Markert: The use of sound amidst dialogues like here draw our attention to the rhythm of the women’s speaking voices, amplifying our awareness of the power of their voices and the importance of oral history.
34:46 Shaelyn Hanes: Notice that Kiều just fell asleep in Juliet’s courtyard. Are we watching her dreams in these following scenes?
34:54 Shaelyn Hanes: As you may remember, dreams played an important role in our first two films, Night Passage and The Fourth Dimension
36:32 Shaelyn Hanes: This is a pivotal moment in Kiều’s transgression against the norms expected of her as a woman as she takes on the role of voyeur to watch Alikan, the photographer who typically watches women.
37:13 Emily Markert: Trinh points to this scene as an example of a scene that uses “uncommon lines” that left both actors at a loss as to how to match “the right tone and reaction for them.”
37:18 Emily Markert: By encouraging unnatural moments such as this, Trinh highlights the fact that we are watching a performance.
38:36 Shaelyn Hanes: Notice how we just heard Kiều’s name being called by someone offscreen, and how this is used to signal our movement to a different realm of fantasy or memory.
38:44 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh writes, “To hear one's name called by an ex-lover or by a relative can trigger unexpected memories or it can lead one to an immediate change of zone."
38:55 Emily Markert: This scene is an allusion to a famous opening moment in The Tale of Kiều. In the poem, Kiều finds an abandoned tomb at a temple and is later visited by the woman buried there.
39:26 Emily Markert: Through this interaction, Kiều becomes aware of her own talent.
39:32 Emily Markert: She realizes “that women with many talents are bound in life to suffer” by recalling signs from her childhood that foreshadowed her own suffering.
39:41 Shaelyn Hanes: The element of water we see here is woven throughout the film, visually returning us to this scene in which Kiều is home in Vietnam, naked and playing freely.
39:49 Shaelyn Hanes: This memory and the water running through it serve as “an intervention of women’s space.”
39:54 Shaelyn Hanes: Consider this concept of memory as women’s space in relation to the slow, heterogeneous rhythm that is Women’s Time in The Fourth Dimension.
40:00 Shaelyn Hanes: Water also comes with danger, as it is the cause of death for one of the female protagonists in Night Passage.
42:18 Shaelyn Hanes: This is the third sequential scene in which Kiều gets wet in the rain, a clue that A Tale of Love is not a linear storyline, but one that deals with a multiplicity of narratives and characters.
42:24 Shaelyn Hanes: As you watch, notice how the narrative becomes less and less linear as the film progresses.
42:32 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh scripted and filmed A Tale of Love as a series of storyboards with no set order to the scenes, allowing the film to take shape during shooting and find its final form during the editing phase.
42:38 Shaelyn Hanes: This process may account for some of the discomfort evident in the acting, which was intentionally heightened by Trinh.
42:53 Emily Markert: Trinh explores linearity in all of the films we have screened. Here, linearity or lack thereof helps convey the timelessness of the Kiều story.
42:56 Emily Markert: As Trinh has said, Kiều embodies not a character in a story but “a mirror that reflects other mirrors.”
44:13 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh writes of the photographer, Alikan: “If we find Alikan offensive, then we should find ourselves all the more offensive.
44:18 Shaelyn Hanes: For what he does is no more, no less to be criticized than what we do all the time in making or consuming images of love stories.
44:25 Shaelyn Hanes: We follow actors on screen to their most private places... And we demand that the gestures of love be exposed down to their most intimate details and to the widest number for the more “natural” they are, the more we revel in watching them and the better consumers we prove to be.”
45:55 Emily Markert: Nguyễn Du, the author of The Tale of Kiều, was himself controversial. The poem offered subtle political critique and referenced Chinese literature, just as Alikan does here.
46:14 Emily Markert: Duong has written “viewing Nguyễn as a quintessentially male artist, consigned to produce for a new culturally dominant and political regime, shows how men can also appropriate Kiều and her story as their own.” Do you think Alikan stands in for a representation of Nguyễn himself?
46:46 Shaelyn Hanes: While it might be suggested that we are watching Kiều and Alikan in these scenes, Trinh notes that she intended the blindfolded woman to be the model we saw with Alikan on the motorcycle earlier.
46:53 Shaelyn Hanes: Of this scene, she writes: “Vision and visuality have long been the domain in which male mastery is exerted, while the eroticism of the female body through touch is an area some feminists have reappropriated and theorized at length. On the other hand, one can say the film is a trap for the gaze, and the gender line is not so clear-cut.”
48:17 Emily Markert: This reference to Romeo and Juliet will come up again.
49:46 Emily Markert: This shot is an example of Trinh’s manipulation of the 35mm camera to counter the depth of field it afforded, deliberately flattening the image.
49:50 Emily Markert: Without shadows and surfaces, we are forced to focus on the relationships between the things in the picture.
50:11 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh talks about a Tale of Love as a film with multiple veils. The elements of the film might consist of some of these veils, as they function both independently and in concert with one another.
50:19 Shaelyn Hanes: For example, Trinh writes of the colors of the film: “Yellow, blue, red. These are the primary colors featured in the film, with green as a punctuation…But if you follow these colors in their full mobility, in their multifold relationship-in their contrast, texture, and rhythm-you may get involved in a story-track that can radically shift your reading of the film.”
51:12 Emily Markert: On a more meta scale, Trinh thinks of all films in general, especially documentaries, as incomplete assemblages.
53:23 Shaelyn Hanes: Here we experience a different type of voyeurism, observing a couple’s quarrel. The darkness of night serves as a veil in this scene and we are left wondering who we are watching and why.
53:59 Shaelyn Hanes: Like the sounds that play amidst dialogues, this scene shows how Trinh tries to “[break] loose from the dualistic relation between translator and originator” using sound.
55:37 Emily Markert: Tradition and modernity were key themes in Trinh’s The Fourth Dimension, which we watched two weeks ago.
55:40 Emily Markert: Here we see Trinh addressing these concepts in relation to a Vietnamese family living in the United States.
55:49 Emily Markert: According to translator and scholar Huỳnh Sanh Thông, Kiều and her familial responsibilities symbolize the existential state of a diasporic community longing to hold onto a connection with Vietnam.
55:54 Emily Markert: The Fourth Dimension ostensibly posits that Japan itself is (or was, in 2001) in a similar position, looking to the past yet moving into the future.
58:19 Emily Markert: Lighting in Trinh's films is often meant to highlight (no pun intended) the relationships between the figures on screen, rather than add dramatic effect.
59:39 Emily Markert: The low lighting here doesn't privilege one character over the other and emphasizes the content of their dialogue. The subtitles are also especially legible in this scene to that end.
1:00:42 Emily Markert: This scene was described to us by Kiều in an earlier scene as one from The Tale of Kiều.
1:00:53 Emily Markert: This blending of narratives leads me to wonder which Kiều we are watching and when. Does this scene depict the modern Kiều or the mythical Kiều? Is it a fantasy or reality? Does it matter?
1:02:34 Shaelyn Hanes: Just as we saw the younger Kiều acknowledge the viewer earlier in the film, the adult Kiều now looks back at us as we watch her.
1:02:38 Shaelyn Hanes: By returning our gaze, Kiều challenges our presumed objectivity as viewers, or what Donna Haraway might call the “conquering gaze from nowhere.”
1:02:42 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh notes, “Looking back is also commonly experienced as an act of defiance, a perilous act that is historically feared for its ability to divest the Master of his power to possess and control…She who looks back rather than hide or be oblivious to her body and her sensuality is bound to provoke.”
1:03:20 Emily Markert: Moments like this one speak to Trinh’s awareness of her position as the filmmaker. Though not a documentary, A Tale and its emphasis on voyeurism is at many times self-reflexive on Trinh’s part.
1:03:45 Emily Markert: Reflecting on the morality of Kiều while panning across these North Beach strip-clubs encourages us to reconsider the presumed “morality” of the women who work in these spaces.
1:04:28 Emily Markert: As film theorist Gwendolyn Foster said in an interview with Trinh, “Kiều forces us to think about the daily acts of resistance that so many women, particularly women who are read as "victims," perform...By walking along beside the sex workers she gestures toward a rereading of sex worker as "non-victim," and she claims space in a transgressive performative”
1:05:30 Shaelyn Hanes: Here, Kiều appears to be flipping through an art history book. She lands on an image of Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde (1886), a famous art historical example of a “female body without a head.”
1:05:36 Shaelyn Hanes: The perspective of the image is also noticeably similar to the angle Alikan took when photographing the female model on the motorcycle earlier in the film.
1:08:17 Emily Markert: Trinh writes of the dialogue in A Tale of Love: “These dialogues are...not real dialogues; they are written as story-spaces that are peculiar to each role designed…and despite their close interactions, they maintain their independent logic-not good versus bad logic, but only different ones.”
1:08:55 Emily Markert: In this way, Trinh uses the traditional structure of a film's narrative as a space for experimentation.
1:10:19 Emily Markert: If Alikan stands in for Nguyễn Du, in this scene the power of the male author and storyteller is subverted.
1:11:05 Emily Markert: Kiều’s empowerment and outspokenness assert a reclamation of the “timeless” patriarchal constructs at work in Nguyễn’s original story, especially as she becomes the purveyor of an historic story.
1:12:37 Shaelyn Hanes: Here, Java calls himself “not an aggressive eye" person. The emphasis on touch and listening in this dialogue points to Trinh’s interest in dissecting and problematizing the assumed hierarchy of our senses, a theme that is interwoven throughout Night Passage and The Fourth Dimension, as well.
1:12:54 Shaelyn Hanes: His comments about “ear contact” also speak to Trinh’s aforementioned interest in privileging sound as equal to or superior to sight in filmmaking.
1:14:24 Emily Markert: By responding to letters addressed to Juliet of Verona, the character of Juliet again suggests a tie to the Romeo and Juliet and the multiplicity of Juliet's character in particular.
1:14:37 Emily Markert: At present, the Juliet Club (a real entity) receives an estimated 5,000 letters per year, three-quarters of which are from women.
1:14:46 Emily Markert: Romeo and Juliet is another “timeless” and highly gendered story about the constrictions of societal roles and challenges of fulfilling familial expectations.
1:14:54 Emily Markert: Like The Tale of Kiều, Romeo and Juliet has been continually restaged and reinterpreted since it was written.
1:16:24 Emily Markert: As Juliet reads this letter from France, in English, consider again how translation factors into the film.
1:16:37 Emily Markert: Here is an important quote from Trinh on the act of translation: “When two spirals move together in a space, there are moments when they meet and others when they do not.
1:16:41 Emily Markert: Trying to find a trajectory that allows the two movements to meet as much as possible without subsuming one to the other is also how I see the process of translation.”
1:18:02 Shaelyn Hanes: At the Melbourne Writers’ Festival Forum, Trinh highlighted the role of “happy accidents” in her filmmaking as crucial to the creative process. She later pointed to this scene as an example.
1:18:11 Shaelyn Hanes: She notes that “The encounter was meant to be an opportunity for Kiều to pour out her heart, her loneliness as an exile and a foreigner. But when we shot the scene, Bacio, the dog, was so excited with the sweets Kiều enticed him with…that he got totally out of control and jumped all over her.”
1:18:38 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh read the dog’s movements as “graceful” and “perfect for a context of love,” despite the mood’s disjuncture with the script.
1:23:40 Emily Markert: Notice how the camera tracks Kiều in the same way that Alikan does. Even without seeing his character lurking in the background, we know that we are following Kiều without her knowledge.
1:23:49 Emily Markert: Think, too, of Trinh’s self-reflexivity as the filmmaker.
1:24:21 Emily Markert: By the way, this is not the only film about The Tale of Kiều that takes place in San Francisco. In 2006, Vietnamese-American Vũ Thu Hà directed a short film on Kiều set here.
1:25:33 Emily Markert: Here again walking is an act that makes Kiều vulnerable but ultimately empowers and frees her as she escapes Alikan’s shadow.
1:31:51 Shaelyn Hanes: In this moment, Kiều seems to be seeing through the veiled layers of the film’s characters.
1:32:02 Shaelyn Hanes: Conflict is one of these veils. Trinh writes that, “what appeared as conflict never got resolved because there was no real conflict in the film.
1:32:05 Shaelyn Hanes: So the story I offer turns out to be in the end just a moment of a no-story.”
1:32:21 Shaelyn Hanes: By focusing less on the content of the narrative and more on each character’s signifying traits, Kiều begins to understand the “no-story” of the film that she exists within.
1:33:09 Shaelyn Hanes: The jarring and unexpected dissonance of this strange music creates a really visceral response for me.
1:33:18 Shaelyn Hanes: Writer Nasrullah Mambrol observes Trinh’s use of dissonant sound and music as “characteristic of postmodern feminist poetic transgressions.”
1:34:10 Emily Markert: The disconnect between sound and dialogue/action increases as we near the end of the film.
1:35:49 Emily Markert: The phrase “four-letter word” in English evokes profanity, but that is not what Kiều means by the phrase here.
1:35:54 Emily Markert: The misnomer represents a breakdown of translation, and serves to poke a hole in the dominance of English.
1:36:32 Emily Markert: Translation is also increasingly tenuous towards the end of the film.
1:36:49 Shaelyn Hanes: Trinh speaks of the darkness of night acting as a veil that gestures to the rules in many societies that dictate when a woman may be out on the street.
1:36:58 Shaelyn Hanes: She writes that the night belongs “to those of the margins: sex workers, drug users, secret lovers, and so on. So the scenes of women walking outdoors can be liberatory, but they also remind us of the values of society and the restraints it puts on women in their movement. For how is a woman walking aimlessly alone at night looked at?”
1:38:43 Emily Markert: Here Trinh reveals (or confirms) that the blinded man in the dream was Alikan. This seems to mark an important point in Kiều’s transformation from objectified model to she who sees.
1:38:57 Emily Markert: You may remember that Kiều fell asleep in this space much earlier on in the film, which encourages us to probe at the nature of the events that fall between these two scenes.
1:39:04 Emily Markert: Has Kiều been dreaming, fantasizing, remembering this entire time?
1:39:13 Emily Markert: Trinh writes, “No single linear explanation can account for these narrative interfaces in which performer and performance, dreamer and dream are constituted like the two sides of a coin...One cannot say that she's simply moving in and out of fantasy and reality, but rather, that it's a different zone we are experiencing.”
1:39:55 Shaelyn Hanes: It’s notable that the relationship between Juliet and Kiều is the central relationship in A Tale of Love, rather than any of the relationships between Kiều and the various men she crosses paths with.
1:40:21 Shaelyn Hanes: By noting that “Only Juliet will live forever” through her letters and her “track of scents passed from lover to lover” Trinh foregrounds both the infinite multiplicity of these two characters and the importance of female love and friendship.
1:40:46 Emily Markert: Trinh has also said: “There are as many Kiềus as there are talented women across generations whose destinies Kiều's story has typified…
1:41:02 Emily Markert: Juliet is a name that stands for a person; at the same time, she's a character in the film whose fiction evolves from another fiction; she's a symbol for love and a love site that is radically a multiplicity.”
1:45:23 Shaelyn Hanes: As we’ve seen in Night Passage and The Fourth Dimension, Trinh often uses improvisation to create a space between the experimental and the documentary in her films.
1:45:31 Shaelyn Hanes: In this scene, she asked Juliet to combine different types of dances, improvising in order to create one that was uniquely her own.
1:45:44 Shaelyn Hanes: She writes: “it's a dance that comes out as a physical response to what she's hearing, that is, an intellectual reflection.
1:45:49 Shaelyn Hanes: It's a form of resisting the closure of meaning, whether in movements of the body or of the mind.”
1:46:30 Emily Markert: Throughout A Tale of Love, Kiều tries to balance her various roles and the binary oppositions of being an independent, sensual woman and a modest exemplar of filial piety.
1:46:36 Emily Markert: In each of the four films we have screened, we have seen Trinh create space for female characters to exist in between rigid binaries such as these.
1:46:41 Emily Markert: Her films also occupy a space between film binaries such as “fiction” and “nonfiction.”
1:46:55 Emily Markert: Through her use of creative cinematography, experimental sound and music, and a mixture of written scripts and improvised interpretations, her films defy categorization.
1:47:21 Shaelyn Hanes: We hope our commentary over the past few weeks has provided useful tools and information for watching and analyzing Trinh’s films that will encourage you to continue exploring her work.
1:47:34 CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts: Thank you for virtually joining us tonight and throughout the month.
1:47:43 CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts: This program has been part of the Wattis Institute’s year-long season dedicated to the questions posed by the work of Trinh T. Minh-ha and how they address art, culture, and society today.