Screened as part of NZIFF 2019

The Third Wife 2018

Directed by Ash Mayfair

Inspired by her family history, Ash Mayfield’s directorial debut is a delicate and sensuous journey of a young Vietnamese girl torn between duty to her much older husband and her blossoming sexuality.

Vietnam In Vietnamese with English subtitles
96 minutes




Tran Thi Bich Ngoc
Ash Mayfair


Chananun Chotrungroj


Julie Beziau

Production designer

Do Trong An

Costume designer

Tran Phuong Thao


Ton That An


Tran Nu Yen Khe (Ha)
Mai Thu Huong ‘Maya’ (Xuan)
Nguyen Phuong Tra My (May)
Nguyen Nhu Quynh (Lao)
Le Vu Long (Hung)
Nguyen Thanh Tam (Son)
Lam Thanh My (Lien)
Mai Cat Vi (Nhan)
Nguyen Hong Chuong (Cu Ba)
Bui Trung Anh (Tuyet’s father)


San Sebastián
Busan 2018

Arranged to be wed to a wealthy landowner in rural Vietnam, 14-year-old May becomes the third wife to Hung in a polygamous marriage struggling to produce male heirs. Understanding a successful pregnancy is her only way out, May grows increasingly desperate to provide Hung with a baby boy. But as time passes, illicit affairs, power struggles and May’s sexual awakening threaten to tear her world apart.

The influence of artistic advisor and mentor Tran Anh Hung (The Scent of Green Papaya, Norwegian Wood) is felt throughout. The film quietly signals the passage of time – and May’s growth – through the ongoing silk harvest. Assigned to their fate, the women move like spirits through the luscious landscape that holds them captive. The evocative soundtrack is minimal – there is no dialogue in the first nine minutes – but hits all the right notes, revealing the dichotomy of an open yet oppressive environment.

Inspired by the life of her grandmother and great-grandmother, Ash Mayfield’s directorial debut is a sensitive and passionate exploration of the reality of young women in situations beyond their control, past and present. — Kailey Carruthers