Screened as part of NZIFF 2019
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