Director Minh had a talk with Tuoi Tre Newspaper:
What is the biggest reason that makes you want to be a film director?
It’s quite simple. I just want to entertain audiences by telling them the stories I know. I never get tired of listening.
I like places full of strangers like markets or airports. There, I’ll watch those strangers and try to guess their characteristics. So my stories will include what I’ve witnessed plus what I’ve imagined.
The movies will be a mix of a little weirdness, a little love, a little fun and a little sex, just like this life.
Who influences you most in making movies?
I’m inspired by directors like Almadovar, Wong Kai Wai, Ang Lee, Kieslowski, Fellini, Bergman, Kubrick and Kurosawa.
Do you think working as a director at the ‘kingdom of directors’, i.e Hollywood, is a luck?
There are many film studios in Hollywood, a lot of filmmakers have flocked there so the competition is tense. There are many talents out there, but not all of them have the luck to succeed.
What is the most difficult thing in making a Vietnamese-language film in America?
Finding investors, since many investors (in America) do not believe they could benefit from a Vietnamese-speaking movie. Vietnamese people living in America are busy with their business, and they would prefer an American movie to a Vietnamese one.
Meanwhile, American audiences do not like to watch a movie with subtitle.
So how did you look for investment for you movie?
I have knocked on doors of many places. Finally, I got US$200,000 with a half coming from investors and a half from my own.
I planned to buy a house with US$100,000, but I just thought that making a movie from that money would be way happier than buying a house.
Which factor influences you most in making a movie?
Emotion. If my movie cannot touch me, how could it win people’s hearts? The second factor is investors and collaborators. I cannot make a movie all by myself.
Some people say that the main male character Tam is reflected in your wife. How do you think about this?
No, Tam is like me, not my wife. I’m always quiet, close-minded and feel lonely all the time even when I’m in a crowd. I prefer listening than talking and I’m also willing to help other people like Tam helped Brendan in the movie.
The bathing scene in the film is also a special memory to me. When I was 6, my grandpa was very old so grandma told me to bathe him every week. I’ll never forget the worry that he would pass away when I touch his pale skin.
Touch has more sex scenes than many other Vietnamese films, doesn’t it?
Really? I’m not sure about it. Sensitive scenes in “Touch” are necessary. I don’t use them to lure audiences.
I see that Vietnamese people usually expect that Vietnamese movies must include less sex scenes than American movies. I don’t agree with it.
Many audiences also judge that “Touch” worsens the image of Vietnamese women in American eyes. How do you think?
“Touch” didn’t worsen the image of Vietnamese women. It’s certain that my character is not a perfect woman. Women in “Touch” are just really strong and independent, take the initiative in everything, even in sex.
Is “Touch” satisfied your dream to be a director?
Yes. I really want to make more movies, but if I can’t, “Touch” is enough for me. I even thought that I could make a movie, but I did it.
Making movies is hard, and I’m not sure I will have another chance. I’ve finished a screenplay for the next movie, but we can’t predict everything.
Starring Porter Lynn, John Ruby, Melinda Bennett, Long Nguyen and Le Thi Hiep, “Touch” is a story about the unlikely friendship between Tam, a Vietnamese-American manicurist and a shy mechanic named Brendan.
The movie shows how, with just a simple touch, people can reveal our deepest longings and even heal a wounded soul.
It has won numerous awards including Awards Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at Vietnamese International Film Festival 2011; Best Actress, Best Story Line, Best Cinematography Award at Boston International Film Festival 2011; Best First Feature at Santa Rosa International Film Festival 2011 as well as Jury Award and Audience Choice Award at Atlanta Asian Film Festival 2011.