It’s the rainy season again, and the flooding is relentless in the Vietnamese farming village where 13-year-old Quynh Le lives with his family. As if their situation isn’t precarious enough, the area is littered with landmines. Daily life for Quynh involves protecting his 98-year-old grandmother, his family’s belongings, his neighbours and, before going to school, catching frogs in the river for the family breakfast.
The family’s life takes a sudden turn for the better when the government announces that their whole village of 97 families will be relocated to a safe area free of landmines. Each family will receive a parcel of land, and the lots will be apportioned by lottery. Everyone in the village is pleased with their good fortune.
Building a new house, however, poses dilemmas, both practical and moral. The family will need to call on relatives and friends for help, as well as consult the village’s well-respected fortune-teller. Place education ahead of wealth and reputation, he advises; he also gives them specific instruction on where to position the front door and which day to pick for the groundbreaking. In the meantime, the government urges the village to move quickly with the construction of their new homes. Caught between uncooperative weather, inadequate finances and a tight timeline, Quynh’s father proceeds with care and caution. After all, this undertaking will lay the foundation for his family’s home, and every decision he makes affects their future.
A debut documentary that artfully and thoughtfully portrays new beginnings — and challenges — in Vietnam’s rural landscape, Days of Rain is also a sensitively presented perspective on how faith has the power to change one’s destiny.
– Heather Keung