Surname Viet Given Name Nam


Documentary / History / Romance

IMDb Rating 6.6 10 149

woman director vietnam war

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 09, 2022 at 08:11 PM


997.13 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 48 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by angelofhistory 10 / 10


A brilliant, difficult film that repays multiple viewings. It works less by narrative than by image, repetition, and the layering of multiple voices—like poetry, perhaps. An 'experimental' documentary, it raises issues of cultural translation and hybrid identities, and especially the difficulty of representing the experience of 'Vietnamese' women to 'American' audiences. (And who counts as a Vietnamese woman? Are emigrants still Vietnamese? What does it mean to be a woman?) The first part of the film is based on a series of interviews conducted with women in Vietnam. The later part features interviews with the actresses— Vietnamese immigrants to the USA--who have played the interviewees. The reenactments are heavily stylized, and the women speak in English. The later interviews, in the US, are conducted in Vietnamese. Interwoven with the interviews (as often in counterpoint as illustration) are archival footage, historical images, selections from Vietnamese poetry, and reflections on the nature of documentary.

Stuart Klawans, in his review in The Nation, comments, "Keenly intelligent, sensuously multilayered, the film plays on the audience with such assurance that I feel as if, by explaining the method of the interviews, I've given away the plot of a thriller." But this is a thriller, it's one that bears repeated viewings, even after we know how it turns out. He concludes, "Emotionally,. . . Surname Viet Given Name Nam leaves you with an image of the courage and persistent strength of Vietnamese women, not in the terms of propaganda- poster heroics, but on the human level." If you're interested in Vietnamese women, global culture, mediations on exile, or avant-garde cinema, it's well worth seeing.

Reviewed by nobodyshippy 10 / 10


This movie is not for those looking for the glossy, dumbed-down Hollywood documentary- if that's what you want, pass this and go to Michael Moore, choose one of his movies where the nice man will tell you what to think.

"Surname Viet Given Name Nam" is an intricate, beautiful tapestry of a film that requires you to pay complete attention to the screen in order to fully appreciate it. It can be difficult to understand at times because some of the Vietnamese women speak with thick accents. However, if the viewer simply listens to them, eventually the individual cadences of their voices fall into place and what they are saying becomes understandable. The scenes are layered, not simply documentary-style face-and-scene shots but tight, personal angles. The scene might begin with a close up of a woman's face, however the shot travels to take in her hands twisting and gesturing or her feet shuffling as she speaks. On top of this are occasional blocks of text-subtitles and occasionally, a song mixing with the woman's words intentionally obscuring her reality with the wistful, fairy-tale like lyrics. So as not to spoil the movie, I'll just say that the two halves of it contrast beautifully- black & white and colour, Vietnam and America, past and present. This film is amazing, don't let the racist, West-centric review for this movie fool you. Watch is with an open mind and heart and you'll do fine.

Reviewed by blueenvelope 10 / 10

one of the best movies i've ever seen

"Surname Viet, Given Name Nam" is a rare document/reenactment in that it captures the voices of southern Vietnamese women at a time when the Vietnamese nation-state was undergoing rapid political-economic transformation that worked in different ways to structurally include and exclude, connect and separate, women--apparently, increasingly differentiating "persons" according to gendered terms. There are few records of the southern Vietnamese woman's perspective, especially in English. What is notable to me about the English renderings is that they require the viewer/listener to be active, to move into the text as one might in a transnational setting where communication with the speaker is valued, recognizing even still the ways this kind of action privileges the use of English. With such an acknowledgment, this film becomes Trinh's--and her intervewee/actors'--gift of translation to the rest of us.

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