Pearls of the Far East

| The Royal

Canada, Vietnam 2011 Rated 14A 103:00 Vietnamese with English subtitles World Premiere

Cuong Ngo’s debut feature film weaves together the forbidden love stories of seven women over several generations. The spectacular beauty of Vietnam serves as the backdrop for the movie, which is set to a hauntingly beautiful musical score by composers Alexina Louie and Alex Pauk. The expressive moments of passion and desire are further enriched by a gorgeous cast of acclaimed talent from Canada, US, and Vietnam, including singer-actress Ngo Thanh Van (The Clash), who plays a young woman on a deserted island, tormented by her insatiable desires for the man she lives with.

Other members of the cast include Truong Ngoc Anh (The White Silk Dress), Nhu Quynh (The Vertical Ray of the Sun), Hong Anh (Moon at the Bottom of the Well), and legendary Vietnamese-American actress Kieu Chinh (Journey From the Fall).

Writer Minh Ngoc Nguyen, whose award-winning stories inspired the film, also makes an appearance as a glamorous fashion designer who reminisces about her most beloved wedding gowns.

Each narrative is based on a true story, and the film adaptation was influenced by the cultures, spiritual beliefs, and histories of the regions in which it was shot. Locations include the legendary Mekong Delta river that leads to Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand; the Dalat, a former French military station where ghostly myths abound; the Royal region Hoi An; the western-influenced Saigon; and the northern region of Hanoi and Sapa where Vietnam borders China. The final scene was shot in Toronto as a tribute to the Vietnamese diaspora living here.

– Heather Keung