From Eco-Aesthetics to Eco-Justice: The Ecological Discourses in Vietnamese Independent Art Cinema

Oct 23, 2018 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Hoang Cam Giang (Lecturer, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University – Hanoi; HYI Visiting Scholar 2018-19)
Chair/discussant: Karen Thornber (Professor of Comparative Literature and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University)
Co-sponsored with the Harvard University Asia Center

Unlike American cinema where there is a separation among Hollywood and Indie films, in Vietnam, there is a different binary between state-sponsored and independent films (with independent cinema further divided into art and commercial cinemas). Due to their self-sufficiency with regard to governmental production and release systems, independent art films directly criticize socio-cultural and political issues. They challenge the narratives of government-sponsored cinema and often are subjected to public censorship. For this reason, independent art cinema in Vietnam has the ability to liberally discuss issues and supplement the ecological discourses found in state and independent commercial cinemas. Besides, in independent art cinema, concerns about the ecological environment, nature and the non-human world are increasingly manifest, almost in parallel with the rapid progress of urbanization and globalization recently. Based on the approach of eco-cinema, this talk tries to answer an important question: How does independent cinema with its unique visual language construct ecological discourses? Through examining both the subtle and energetic changes in eco-aesthetics, the talk also sets out the possibility of discussing about the eco-justice of those films in a critical and suggestive way. To clarify this assertion, I will analyze the movies of four independent directors that have won many international awards: Phan Dang Di, Nguyen Hoang Diep, Siu Pham, and Nguyen Vo Nghiem Minh.