American filmmaker making movie about Vietnamese funeral customs

"A Brilliant Night!" (Đêm tối rực rỡ) is a story of a middle-class family in Saigon going through a night with many emotional and even shocking events.

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American filmmaker making movie about Vietnamese funeral customs
Aaron Toronto, the movie director. Photo: VOV

Aaron Toronto is an American filmmaker who has lived in Vietnam for 16 years now, since the age of 18. Although Aaron might be a strange name to the mass audiences, it is the fact that he is well-known among Vietnamese filmmakers. He is considered a “silent hero” in addition to great directors and producers like Charlie Nguyen or Ngo Thanh Van. Aaron has participated in many successful films in various roles such as producer (movie Jailbait – Em chưa 18 – or Chasing – Truy sát), screenwriter (Tam Cam, The Untold Story – Tấm Cám, Chuyện chưa kể), deputy director (Fool for Love – Để mai tính), and editor (Teo Em).

During his 16 years of living and working in Ho Chi Minh City, he has been married to actress Nha Uyen and become the father of two lovely children, Aaron has always cherished his plan for a movie directed by himself. Finally, “A Brilliant Night!” was born, made with all of his filmmaking skills and experiences after more than 16 years living in Vietnam.

“A Brilliant Night!” is a story of a middle-class family in Saigon going through a night with many emotional and even shocking events. When the grandfather died, the whole family of Xuan Thanh (starring actress Nha Uyen) gathered to attend the funeral ceremony, which was glittering and majestic. However, each member’s personal desire gradually overwhelmed the loss, truths and tragedies broke out, as a consequence of trauma from the extreme domestic violence.

American filmmaker making movie about Vietnamese funeral customs
A scene in the movie. Photo: VOV

Funeral customs are an inseparable part of the Vietnamese people’s conception of beliefs. Having lived in Vietnam for 16 years, Aaron had a lot of time observing and pondering this custom. In particular, for him, the funeral in the South of Vietnam was unique, unlike anywhere in the world. However, domestic violence is also a real problem that makes Aaron suffer, agonizing when witnessing real-life situations around him.

He wants to convey all the things he has seen, and also his surprise, concerns, feelings, and compassion into the movie. “A Brilliant Night!” will be a story told about pure Vietnamese life, familiar with the majority of Vietnamese people.

“I think it’s understandable that audiences can’t help but be shy to watch a movie made by an American director. This is an original film that delves into the local culture, not a remake or has borrowed anything from other cultures such as America’s. I think only people who are far away from their homeland, or foreigners who love Vietnamese culture will be interested in these topics to the extent that they delve deeply into them, seeing them as “protagonists” and not just background things.

“A Brilliant Night!” is simply my conversation with the slice of life when living in Vietnam. With my passion for cinema and storytelling, I want to express my feelings about the culture of the Vietnamese people, of my wife, of my children ”- Aaron said.

“A Brilliant Night!” is scheduled to premiere on June 18.