In October, the film ‘Memoryland’ premiered in the ‘New Currents’ category at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) after receiving approval from Vietnamese authorities two weeks prior.

The film was created by Vietnamese director and screenwriter Bui Kim Quy, with Dang Xuan Truong serving as producer and director of photography.

This is not the duo’s first collaboration; they previously worked together on a film that was selected for BIFF in 2014 but was ultimately banned from domestic screenings.

‘Memoryland’ had three screenings at BIFF on October 10, 11, and 14, although Quy was unable to attend due to health issues.

The film explores burial ceremonies in Vietnam, the significance of honoring the dead, and the complexities of relationships among the living, according to the director.

Allan Hunter, a writer for Screen Daily, commented on the film, saying, “The second feature from writer/director Kim Quy Bui uses a chain of interconnected stories to examine attitudes about death in Vietnam.”

The movie is divided into three acts. It begins with the death of a mother who wanted a simple funeral and burial in her hometown. However, her cash-strapped family contemplates cremation instead, leading to conflicts between their financial circumstances and the wishes of the deceased.

The second story revolves around the widow of a construction worker who becomes lonely in her constant vigil at her husband’s grave and ultimately finds companionship with an elderly painter.

In the third act, the previously unrelated stories intertwine and provide clarity.

Hunter praised the film’s “poetic images of decay,” captured by cinematographer Xuan Truong Dang, and highlighted its attempt to address social issues, particularly the lack of respect for women’s wishes.

‘Memoryland’ received recognition from BIFF organizers, who commended Quy’s growth as a director in their press release. The film was also acknowledged as one of Southeast Asia’s notable titles, exploring gender inequalities and patriarchy.

Additionally, Vietnamese director Le Bao’s film ‘Vi’ was shown at BIFF, despite being banned from screening in Vietnam. BIFF organizers decided to proceed with screening ‘Vi’ three times as part of the ‘A Window on Asia Cinema’ program. The film’s description on the BIFF website now only mentions Singapore, France, and Germany as the countries involved in its production.

Bui Kim Quy, the director of ‘Memoryland,’ graduated from the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema with a major in screenwriting. Before her directorial debut, she wrote screenplays for several feature films and directed several short films. Her first feature film, ‘The Inseminator,’ was invited to the ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’ program at BIFF in 2014. ‘Memoryland’ was supported by the Script Development Fund at ASEAN Cinema Fund Busan in 2016.

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