City Paper is not for tourists
The first few films that emerged from Vietnam in the 1980s were low-budget, black-and-white, and concerned, understandably, with the effects of “the American war.” This selection of five features and two shorts, all made since 2000, in Views of Vietnam exhibits broader interests, more exuberant styles, and a rediscovery of tradition. The movies to be shown this weekend, for example, are in most ways quite different, yet both feature exquisite scenery and numerous showcases for traditional Vietnamese performing arts. Set at the beginning of the 20th century, Glorious Time in Me Thao Hamlet (at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2) is the tale of a plantation owner who, deranged by grief after his bride dies in a car crash, decides to banish modernity. He bars all manufactured goods from his estate, only to be visited by two French colonial officials who inform him that a railway will be built across his land. Some 75 years later, the man at the center of Sandy Lives (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4) returns to his beachfront fishing village after a 20-year absence caused by the war; his wife has waited faithfully, but he’s remarried and had a daughter—which makes for an awkwardly blended family. The other films include King of Rubbish Dumps (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11), in which a tough scavenger softens his attitude after falling in love, and Deserted Valley (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18), a rare look at life among one of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. The series runs from Friday, Dec. 2, through Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th Street and Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 357-3200.