A Quiet Evening with Vietnamese Food and Film
After reading a little more about A Yeti in the City I become more bummed about missing it the night before. That’s because it was partially shot in Austin and features music by the groovy Austin band The Octopus Project. Among the listed cast is Matt Bearden, who is very likely the comic whom I went to college with here in Austin. In the 90s, the Bearden I knew was on the MTV series Austin Stories. He also had a brief appearance on now-cancelled, Austin-shot Rollergirls, the A&E reality series about one of two local roller-derby leagues.
That’s the bad thing about living in a film-centric city. It’s easy to miss locally-made films, even ones having a world premiere at a major film festival. I’ll just have to cross my fingers they’ll show it another time. Once I see it, I’ll know if it’s the Matt Bearden I’m thinking of.
For dinner, I meet my husband at Pho Hong, a great low-rent Vietnamese restaurant located in Austin’s growing north side Vietnamese community. I only later realize that the theater where I’ll be seeing my first film of the day isnâ€™t far away.
My husband and I used to live near the restaurant, and we still have the phone number with the neighborhood’s exchange. We regularly get wrong numbers from callers speaking, I think, Vietnamese. Given the large Vietnamese community near the theater, I’m expecting a good local turnout at the film.
Dust of Life is one of four Vietnamese films being shown at AFF. They have their own special section in the program, being listed as Viet Film Wave. The AFF’s home page even has a link in Vietnamese to the Viet Wave films!The theater where the film is showing is the Regal Arbor. It’s a plain multiplex located in a shopping area about fifteen minutes north from downtown. It mostly shows art movies, and I’ve been there many times. It’s the space the Austin Film Society often uses for showing sneaks.
While there is a Viet Film Wave poster on the ticket window at the theater, there hadn’t been one at the restaurant. The theater is fairly empty for Dust.
Set in the early 90s, it’s a film about the children of the boat people, and the struggles that the Vietnamese community faced after coming to America in the early 1970s. Having had a huge high-school crush on a Vietnamese-American boy who had been a boat-person himself, this isn’t my first exposure to the issues of that community.
While the film isn’t terrible, it certainly isn’t the great Vietnamese gang film that’s still waiting to be made.
The Q&A session following the film draws a question in Vietnamese from an older gentleman. It’s a query for writer/director Le-Van Kiet whose reply is, in turn, then translated back into Vietnamese for the question-asker. The general gist of his question is: though the film touches on important issues about the immigrant experience, this movie has far too much profanity.
I agree that there was way too much profanity in the film. Dust of Life had far more swearing than any other film I’ve seen at the festival so far. That didn’t work for me.