Fifth Cinema

Nguyễn Trinh Thi

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Staff Picks Fifth Cinema
Nguyễn Trinh Thi

56 Minutes

Staff Picks

August 1–31, 2022

In this work Nguyễn interrogates local official histories and external viewpoints on Vietnam, together with the wider ideals of women and men, the role of the artist in society, and the landscape as metaphor. Fifth Cinema begins with a quiet statement “I am a filmmaker, as you know.” That text and what follows, by Māori filmmaker Barry Barclay, who coined the term Fourth Cinema to distinguish Indigenous cinema from the established First, Second, and Third Cinema framework, provides structure to Nguyễn’s hybrid essay film that moves on multiple cinematic and topical terrains. Eschewing voice in favor of the written word, and juxtaposing moving images of the filmmaker’s own daughter with archival images of Vietnamese women seen through the lens of the “ship’s officers,” the film slowly leads the viewer through a narrative of colonialism, indigeneity, and cinematic limitations in representation. The film continues Nguyễn’s practice of combining her own moving images with found footage to create works that confront issues within a specifically Vietnamese context, but that are also universal. Personal accounts, popular movies, government films, news footage, documentary material, home movies sold on eBay, and YouTube videos are interwoven with the artist’s own material in her consideration of how the camera mediates understanding.

Fifth Cinema (2018, 56 minutes) is presented on e-flux Video & Film alongside I Died for Beauty (2012, 8 minutes) as the August 2022 edition of Staff Picks, featuring filmmaker Nguyễn Trinh Thi.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Film, Colonialism & Imperialism
Southeast Asia, History, Memory, Mass Media & Entertainment, Documentary
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Nguyễn Trinh Thi is a Hanoi-based filmmaker and artist, a founder of the documentary video organization DocLab in Hanoi. In her films and installations Nguyễn examines issues concerning society and history—especially the complex, traumatic history of her home country Vietnam and its after-effects in the present. Nguyen uses montage to compose her work, drawing on different image media, from her own audio and visual recordings to found footage and still images from postcards, photography, newsreels, Hollywood films and ethnographic footage.


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