Pearls of the Far East is Toronto-based filmmaker Cuong Ngo's first feature film, which premiered at a sold out screening at the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival in 2011. The much anticipated film premier's in Vancouver on March 3 at the Rio Theatre.
Starring well-known Vietnamese actors and actresses such as Ngo Thanh Van, Truong Ngoc Anh and Nhu Quynh to name a few, Pearls of the Far East is a film based on the award winning short stories by Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc who also stars in one of the shorts.
The film is a collection of seven different shorts that depict various women who are unable to attain love, focusing on their feelings of loneliness and unrequited sense of longing. The film crosses generations, reflecting the different stages of love, beginning with a pair of children and ending with a lonely retired actress. Director Ngo draws attention to women in Vietnam and their emotional battle of desire and repression, particularly through his use of lighting to highlight the female protagonist in each short.
Photo courtesy of www.facebook.com/PearlsoftheFarEastTheMovie
The first chapter is about a pair of children who introduce the bliss of companionship that the subsequent women long to experience. There is minimal dialogue throughout the film, but most especially in the third chapter, 'Blood Moon'.
In a recent interview, Director Ngo described his use of music and minimal dialogue to invites the audience to listen to the inner dialogue of the characters. It also emphasizes the significance that quick glances and gestures between two individuals bear. An intimacy is fostered between the viewer and the characters throughout the film. In this way, the film speaks to a universal audience despite the differences in spoken language.
Beautifully shot, the film possesses breathtaking static shots of the Vietnamese landscape, which go hand in hand with the evocative score composed by Alexina Louie and Alex Pauk. The music speaks for the unspeakable emotions that the characters experience and is powerful in expressing the inarticulate. In the briefest instances where there is neither music or dialogue, the surrounding landscape and ambience conveys to the viewer the beauty of the filmmaker's endeavor in his creation of the film; the silences intensify the poignancy of the film.
There is variation within the film of the social status of the characters, their purposes and backgrounds and also in the settings of each short. A deserted beach with characters dressed in simple cotton clothing juxtaposes a Venice-esque canal and well-dressed characters in red lipstick and suits. The differences between the characters in each short, however, serve to fortify the notion that the emotions felt by each of the Vietnamese women are common, if not ubiquitous.
Pearls of the Far East is a gorgeous film in its cinematography, music and subject matter. Having won various awards including "Best Cinematography" and "Best Music" at the California Independent Film Festival, Pearls of the Far East is a critically acclaimed film by a promising director you really do not want to miss.
Pearls of the Far East Fundraiser
hosted by the Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Society
South East Asian Cultural Heritage Society (SEACHS)
Sunday, 3 March 2013 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM (EST)
Vancouver, British Columbia
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Caroline Teng is pursuing her BA in English and Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto, and loves anything arts-related.