Surname Viet, Given Name Nam. 1989. USA. Directed by Trinh T. Minh-ha. 35mm. 108 min.
The New Directors/New Films closing-night selection of 1989, Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Surname Viet, Given Name Nam is a richly layered, formally complex collage of the experiences of multiple generations of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American women, enriched by archival footage, folk songs, and poetry excerpts. This confluence of voices refuses to choose a single, dominant narrative, giving equal weight to the subjective experience of each woman, yet tying them together through various cultural signifiers. The interviewees reckon with the meaning of their own appearance in the film, and its significance as a simultaneously collective and personal act of expression.