Em Là Bà Nội Của Anh
Directed by Phan Gia Nhat Linh
Official Selection, 2016 Osaka Asian Film Festival
Closing Night Film, 2016 Viet Film Fest
SWEET 20 was first known simply as the Vietnamese remake of the Korean film Miss Granny. But millions of fans and countless accolades later, it’s earned a spot of its own as a bona-fide sensation and the biggest hit of Vietnam in 2015. The story, also remade in China in 2015, has become the perfect fantasy-comedy of contemporary Confucianism: a grandmother neglected by her family becomes magically reborn as her 20-year-old self and wins back the hearts of her bratty descendants, a senior center suitor, and indeed an entire nation.
Beyond simply transplanting the story to Vietnam, director Phan Gia Nhat Linh gives it new soul, tapping emotionally into pre-1975 nostalgia for pop songs and a version of pre-socialist commercialism that seems unrecognizable today. Indeed, the film gestures with hilarity and a giddy spirit to the healing power of remembering as a way to reconcile family.
And even as it nods to the past, SWEET 20 looks forward to the bubbly possibilities of Vietnamese pop cinema to come. The USC-trained Linh directs the film with a nice balance of hijinks and feeling, and with a keen sense of how international stories can find meaning locally. But we should all brace ourselves for singer-turned-actress Miu Le in a tour-de-force physical performance, conveying granny sass through any number of squats and facial contortions. –Brian Hu
Co-presented by: Vietnamese American Youth Alliance, Tran & Nguyen Family
Writer: Nguyen Thai Ha
Producer: Nguyen The Phong, Nguyen Quang Dung, Vu Quynh Ha, Choi Yuno
Starring: Miu Le, Ngo Kien Huy, Hua Vi Van