This is my most recent film, ảo tưởng, which translates as ‘dreams’ but with a sense of disillusion.
Filming took a number of years, as I had to juggle the availability of my lead actress, not to mention trying to find the time and energy myself after working full-time at various schools and language centres.
Another big challenge was getting around; I don’t have a motorbike and Sai Gon has no subway system. I’ve not even mentioned the heat; I’m used to filming in north Europe, not the tropics.
Additionally, I had a series of camera problems. I intended to use my pocket Samsung camera W200. The first shots were ‘in the can’ ( the university scene) only for me to accidentally delete them. Soon after the camera, which had filmed in London and came with me to Thailand, Cambodia & Viet Nam, died.
Next I borrowed a Samsung Galaxy 5 phone, only to discover it has no ‘steadycam’, so when I played the recordings back, I was shocked at how shaky there were.
After that, I had a great LG phone, with manual options for focus, light, filters etc … but that phone also died. I next used my iPhone 5 but, as related in an earlier blog, that was caught in the monsoon of Sai Gon’s rainy season. I got the dreaded red screen, and that phone died.
Finally, I was able to finish the film on my new iPhone 6S.
I could have shot some more cutaway shots (scenes of the city, without any of the actors) but i thought it was time to finish the film.
In Vietnam, where I’m currently based, I have an Apple Mac Book (though it’s approaching the end of days, I fear), but in London I have a Samsung laptop using Windows, and has Movie Maker. During a recent trip, I cut the film in two days (with a lot of very un-British shouting cursing and cussing; I have NO computer skills or patience to deal with the fact that I have no computer skills).
Finally, I posted it to YouTube … and now it is available for everyone.
I’m not going to explain the film here, I’d much prefer viewer to watch it and make their own decisions or explanations, although I’d be happy to discuss any points people may wish to raise.
Heartfelt thanks to: Ms Quynh, Ms Mi, Ms Hoang, Ms Phuong & Ms Hang and the wonderful music of Mr Richard Lewis and the experimental aural soundscape of Herr Harald Ansorge and the encouragement of Ms Lorna ‘Ace’ Le Bredonchel & Mr Martin O’Shea
Formerly the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, the War Remnants Museum is consistently popular with Western tourists. Few museums anywhere convey the brutal effects of war on its civilian victims so powerfully. Many of the atrocities documented here were well-publicised but rarely do Westerners hear the victims of US military action tell their own stories. While some displays are one-sided, many of the most disturbing photographs illustrating US atrocities are from US sources, including those of the infamous My Lai Massacre.
US armoured vehicles, artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons are on display outside. One corner of the grounds is devoted to the notorious French and South Vietnamese prisons on Phu Quoc and Con Son Islands. Artefacts include that most iconic of French appliances, the guillotine, and the notoriously inhumane ‘tiger cages’ used to house Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists; VC) prisoners.
The ground floor of the museum is devoted to a collection of posters and photographs showing support for the antiwar movement internationally. This somewhat upbeat display provides a counterbalance to the horrors upstairs.
Even those who supported the war are likely to be horrified by the photos of children affected by US bombing and napalming. You’ll also have the rare chance to see some of the experimental weapons used in the war, which were at one time military secrets, such as the flechette, an artillery shell filled with thousands of tiny darts.
Upstairs, look out for the Requiem Exhibition. Compiled by legendary war photographer Tim Page, this striking collection documents the work of photographers killed during the course of the conflict, on both sides, and includes works by Larry Burrows and Robert Capa.
The War Remnants Museum is in the former US Information Service building. Captions are in Vietnamese and English.
1 What was the museum formerly called ?
2 Why is this museum different for western visitors ?
3 What can be seen outside the museum ?
4 Where were the French & South Vietnamese prisons ?
Genres (types of music): pop / rock / country and western / punk / classical / jazz blues / opera / R ‘n’ B / techno / rap
What kind of music do you like ? Ask your classmates, and try to keep the conversation alive for as long as possible. You can say what genres you like, then give examples of artists and special CDs or records. How do you buy music, how do you listen to it (computer, CD, iPhone, MP3 player ?) Do you play an instrument ? Would you like to play something ? Do you ever go to concerts ?
give in / turn off / start off / put out / cut down/ cut out/ put up with
1 I’m working too much, therefore I must _________ on my hours.
2 You can’t smoke here ! ____________ that cigarette.
3 We have to _________ so much noise and dirt here in Cat Lai (industrial area).
4 I always __________ to my wife when she demands something; it is easier !
5 Time to knock off. Before you go, make sure to _________ your computers.
6 For health reasons, my doctor advised me to _________ fatty food.
7 The film ___________ great, but soon became too complicated.
You are at a job interview and have to introduce yourself. Start by giving some facts, your educational background and how long you have worked in your current/ present job. Describe your personality and finish by saying what you like to do in your spare time.
I was born in …. and I graduated from …. University in 2019 with a major in Business Administration. Since then I’ve had two year’s experience in administrative work at ATHA and followed that with a stint in SLH Corporation.
I’m a very organised person, well-balanced and efficient. I’m hard-working and dedicated.
In my free time, I like to travel and I love to paint. In addition, I enjoy going out and having coffee with friends. I also support Barcelona and enjoy playing badminton after work.
I live in a:
quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.
lively and busy commercial area, many shops
dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.
My home is a / an:
apartment and I live alone
rented room share with friends
house live with family
pros and cons – advantages and disadvantages
adverbs of degree (very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably)
I travel to work by:
Motorbike. It’s quite / rather far and extremely stressful.
Use Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.
On the bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.
Idioms and expressions
At work I find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.
Learning English is, for me, easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun.
In my free time:
I enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !
adore hanging out with my friends and family.
love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !
in my opinion, is vital for the future. It’s imperative we learn.
is a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.
is highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.
The War Remnants Museum is
extremely popular with tourists, a major attraction in the city.
well laid-out and organised. The exhibits are fascinating.
very sombre and thought-provoking. Well worth a visit.
educational and essential. We can discover much there.
not suitable for children, though I would recommend it to adults.
Increase your word power
Part 1: Match the basic words with others of similar meaning
For example boring = tedious
interesting / on time / forgetful / live (I live in) / smart (clever) / get (by hard work) attain / absent-minded /fascinating / punctual / intelligent / reside
unhappy / honest / not often / tired / place / reliable // exhausted / seldom / miserable / trustworthy / dependable / environment
small or unimportant / try / make / great / happy / not nice / / endeavour / jovial / prepare / insignificant / nasty / brilliant
John is so forgetful; he is _______________
German manufacturers are reliable; they are ____________
The increase is very small; it is _______________
The plane was on time; the service is very _____________
She is so clever; she is very ______________
Now make sentences with the new words. Put class into teams and they have to make sentences with five new words e.g. (for example):
After studying for three years, John attained his BA Degree.
Use these phrasal verbs in new sentences – BUT in the past or continuous tense.
give in / give up / put up with / put off / take off / start off
how can I put it ?
a fair comment ?
peer pressure ?
willing = happy to do something
concise = short and to the point.
sneaky = crafty, cheeky
I am __________ to help you with your homework.
Please be short and _________ when you give a speech.
The audience was only _____________ after the band played.
People can get cancer just by _________________ .
I have so much work to do and have a meeting with my boss; it’s a ______________