Can an LGBT Film Help Change Attitudes About Homosexuality in Vietnam?

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When Director Ngoc Dang Vu released his movie “Lost in Paradise” late last year, he knew he was not only depicting an on-screen forbidden romance, but challenging ossified Vietnamese views on homosexuality as well. Though the country has gradually grown more accepting over the years, the LGBT community in Vietnam still faces widespread discrimination. Same-sex marriage is outlawed, homosexuality is frowned upon and considered a disease by many, and–similiar to a refrain we hear in America–many view homosexuality as a threat to the traditional family structure.

Vu’s film, on the other hand, is anything but condemning of the LGBT community. Billed as the first Vietnamese film to positively depict gay romance, the film tells the story of 20-year-old Khoi as he ventures to Saigon after being disowned by his family for being gay and begins a dicey romance with a prositute named Lam. A second storyline also emerges about a mentally disabled man named Cuoi, his attempts at raising a duckling, and his befriending of a female prostitute named Hanh.

So far the film has been well-received popularly, racking in roughly $900,000 in ticket sales. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and made subsequent runs at the Vancouver International Film Festival and Busan International Film Festival. It’s expected to make a run at the Berlin International Film Festival in February of this year. Critically the film has been noted for its genuine emotion, but can be a little trying in it’s narration–understandable for a production from a still nascent Vietnamese film industry. Read more here.