HA NOI — Touch, the debut film by Vietnamese-American director Nguyen Duc Minh, is an award-winning romantic drama about Vietnamese living in the US that has attracted a significant number of local moviegoers.
|Spit and polish: John Ruby (left) as Brendan and Porter Lynn Duong as Tam star in the film Touch by director Nguyen Duc Minh. — Photo touchthemovie.com
The story of Brendan (John Ruby) is a mechanic looking to save his faltering marriage who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Tam, a shy Vietnamese-American manicurist who not only cleans his greasy hands but also gives him advice about his love life. The film explores the sense of touch and its emotional impact.
Making her cinematic debut in Touch, overseas Vietnamese actress Porter Lynn Duong has surprised audiences with her poise in the role of Tam, and her moving performance brought her the best actress award at the Boston International Film Festival last year.
Minh, a former biology student at the University of California at Berkeley, said his inspiration for the Touch screenplay was the fact that about three-quarters of all of the nail salons in the US were owned and operated by Vietnamese-Americans.
"The nail salon industry provides job opportunities for Vietnamese immigrants, but their stories have never been told on-screen," Minh said. "For the first time, we have a film that poignantly depicts the lives of women working in a typical nail salon, and it is the perfect setting to tell a multicultural story."
Minh spent three months to complete the screenplay, but it took two years to find a producer and cast the film. It was shot in Los Angeles in only three weeks with a humble budget of US$200,000 but went on last year to win the audience choice award for best feature film at the fifth Vietnamese International Film Festival in San Jose, California.
The movie has since captured numerous other awards, including writing and cinematography awards at the Boston festival, the best first feature award at the Santa Rosa International Film Festival in California, and a jury award at the Atlanta Asian Film Festival.
The film is currently screening in cinemas throughout Viet Nam. — VNS