Surname Viet Given Name Nam

Trinh T. Minh-ha

Surname Viet Given Name Nam
Trinh T. Minh-ha

108 Minutes

Staff Picks

March 1–31, 2023

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This autobiographical, ethnographic, experimental, and self-reflective documentary offers a multifaceted exploration of the roles of Vietnamese women throughout history. Minh-ha weaves together many experiences and forms, drawing on dance, printed texts, folk poetry, and the stories of women in both the North and South of Vietnam and the US. With beauty and depth, Surname Viet Given Name Nam challenges dominant culture by exalting the voices of women.

Presented as the March 2023 edition of Staff Picks.

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Film, Feminism, Anthropology & Ethnography
Southeast Asia, Experimental Film, Documentary
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Trinh T. Minh-ha is a world-renowned independent filmmaker and feminist, post-colonial theorist. Born in Hanoi in 1952, she emigrated to the United States in 1970 where she studied musical composition, ethnomusicology, and French literature, completing her PhD dissertation in 1977. Since the early 1980s she has developed a complex theoretical, visual, and poetic response to the implicit politics regulating the production of discourses and images of cultural difference. Working through the multidimensional effects of imperialism and neo-colonial modernity, her works played a pivotal role in the emergence of postcolonial theory and critique. Her now canonical 1989 book Woman, Native, Other investigates the contradictory imperatives faced by an “I” positioned “in difference” as a “Third World woman” in the act of writing, as well as in critiquing the roles of the creator, intellectual, and anthropologist. Trinh has been making films for over thirty years and among her best known are Reassemblage (1982) and Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989). Alongside films and installations, she has published numerous essays and books on cinema, cultural politics, feminism, and the arts.

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