søndag den 13. januar 2013

Vietnam report

I have been travelling together with my son Asger in Vietnam since the end of November 2012. We were invited to present our films at the Hanoi Cinemateque. Three evenings with full houses, a mixture of expats and vietnamese film fans. Asger presented his Haiti documentary GHOSTS OF CITE SOLEIL, and answered questions about his experiences in the dangerous environment.

Then another evening his American movie MAN ON A LEDGE was screened, and Asger explained how it was for him to work in Hollywood. The third evening at the cinemateque I presented a selection of clips from my work.

In December 2011 the director of the Hanoi Cinemateque Gerald Herman, an American expat, has created this very pleasant place for viewing films in an interesting building in old Hanoi. He has a big collection of movies from all over the world. His knowledge about Danish cinema for example is astonishing. The digital screenings are of high quality.

The Danish ambassador John Nielsen had arranged for us to meet some Vietnamese film directors, writers and a composer at a dinner in the ambassador’s residence. Closing hour in Hanoi is before midnight. Streets are eerily empty in late evening.

One evening after film screenings we were invited to a rare late-open so-called art-bar, Tadioto, managed by the writer-artist Duc. When he heard I’m a poet he invited me to come the next evening and read some poems. We selected a handful of poems from Martin Aitken’s translations and read them in mike setup at the bar. I read in English, and Duc read his own translations to Vietnamese, his warm sonorous voice and his calm timing was a joy for me to listen to. Before my reading I was treated with some beautiful Vietnamese poetry, this was the Hanoi poet Ly Truan Guyen who read her own poems, Duc translating her to English.

We met Anne Marie Kürstein, the Danish Film Institute’s documentary festival coordinator, and my old friend Dino Raymond Hansen. We had a drink at the famous Bamboo Bar in the old Hotel Metropole. Later the same day we flew to Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, and enjoyed the  energy and organized chaos of this city.

We went twice to the War Remnants Museum which is a shocking visual memory of the horrors of the American war. We went to the beach in Mui Ne, but didn’t like it. The strip of that popular town is like a Tivoli with hundreds of neon signs in Russian. No wonder it is called Russia Town. Apart from the Russian families, it a place for surfers and kitesurfers. They like the tall waves.

We returned to Saigon, a 4 hour drive, and next day flew to the island Phu Quoc near the Cambodian border. This was a place that gave relief. We stayed at the wonderful Mango Bay resort for two weeks, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Asger's mother, my exwife Ann Bierlich had joined us. Around Christmas time an entire Danish film colony assembled here. Daniel Dencik stayed at another resort on the island, Dino and Anne Marie stayed at yet another one, and Dino introduced us to Jan Krogsgaard, the man who started the Burma VJ film project, and who has lived in the region for seven years. He told us many good stories.

We flew from Phu Quoc to Da Nang, with a stop in Saigon. We liked Saigon so much, so decided to enjoy the stop, took a taxi to the center, to have lunch at one of our favorite spots, Saigon-Saigon Bar at the Hotel Caravelle, and then went back to the airport and resumed our travel. We have now been in Hoi An for a week, and enjoy this lovely town, that is full of tourists but still keeps its own.

In a few days Asger and I will fly to Phnom Penh to stay for one week, before starting our flights home, I plan to arrive in Haiti around 22 January, Asger will arrive a few days later so he can finish his present scriptwriitng assignment.

On Sunday 13th of January, The Meta House Phnom Penh (German Cambodian Cultural Center) will screen 'The Five Obstructions'. Both Asger and I will be present.