This Friday, May 7th, head to Galerie Quynh at 65 De Tham in District 1 from 6:30 t0 8:30pm for SHARE, a project to support artistic skills for disadvantage children.

The event will include an exhibition and silent auction of 12 canvases that are the result of an action painting activity that took place in HCM City. Disadvantaged youth who are currently living at a shelter were asked to express what is precious to them. Each child was given one of the 12 canvases to articulate her or his idea. When the 12 canvases were joined together again, they formed a new picture. The canvases will be exhibited individually, but this compilation can still be seen in the video:

The whole picture, which served as the starting point of the action painting, was only visible when the canvases were placed together. At the park, the children used their collages and drawings as well as their spontaneous ideas to adorn each canvas. The 12 connected canvases formed a large map of HCM City . A unifying symbol, the “hoa mai tet flower”, was placed on top of the map, as it stands for hope–the hope of children who came to HCM City in search of a better life.

SHARE is a project of the “Disabled and Disadvantaged Children’s Charity of HCMC” to support artistic skills of disadvantaged kids. We invite artists to participate by dedicating either their time to share their skills with the children or the production of artwork that can be sold to benefit the programme. Costs for our materials are covered by money we receive from selling these products, with the remaining profit donated to the children. Currently we work with the Green Bamboo Shelter for disadvantaged boys, 5 to 16 years old.

The money is spent on education and goes directly to the shelter. For further information, please contact andreatenner@gmail.com or sam.mondon@zoomeroom.de

We recently spoke to Leslie Weiner, one of the three women behind Smile Group, and her documentary on Vietnamese AIDs activist Nguyen Van Hung will premier on PBS in the United States on May 10. We first profiled the work of Smile Group and the legacy of Hung in a February 2009 article, “The Teacher’s Lessons.” Now, his story will be broadcast to millions. Check out the trailer for Thay Hung: Teacher below:

For those unfamiliar with PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), it’s the States’ most widely broadcasted nonprofit public broadcasting television service, with affiliates in more than 350 locations. The Teacher, Thai Hung will appear under the banner of the PBS series Global Voices. If you live in the United States, check for air dates at pbs.org.

Music reviewer and contributor John Thornton seems to have his finger on the pulse. Just two weeks after he shouted out Charlie Brooker for his incisive criticisms of media and pop culture in AsiaLIFE‘s Endorsed column (vol. 23), the U.K.’s Metro reported that Brooker’s Newswipe special “How to Report the News” became YouTube’s top-rated video. Check it out below:

Mamma Mia Meets Vietnam

January 30, 2010

Spontaneous song-and-dance numbers. A sunny, seaside resort locale. Boy meets girl. On the surface, it certainly looks like Mamma Mia! (which would make sense in ABBA-obsessed Vietnam).

If this is your first Tet in Vietnam, you might be surprised to find that cinemas are beginning to screen a bevy of homegrown movies. One of the film’s released this weekend is–to our knowledge–the first film musical made in Vietnam: Nhung Nu Hon Ruc Ro (Glamorous Kisses). Contributing Editor Thomas Maresca first teased it in the September cover story, “Vietnamese Film Gets Focused,” and we recently found the trailer while compiling the Box Office section for the February issue of AsiaLIFE.

Directed by Nguyen Quang Dung, whose last two movies both broke the country’s box office records, the film follows the exploits of a non-traditional hotel heiress who decides to put on a music show to save her family’s Nha Trang resort from bankruptcy. It took a bit of digging to find that information, which is not to say we didn’t enjoy the following English translations of the plot summaries on cinema websites:

Lam is a rich lady but she is a perverse and haughty person. Beside, she was inherited beauty resort in Nha Trang by her family – Galaxy Cinema

Lam is a naughty dreaming girl who has a big heritage from her parents. She always dreams of being a singer and because of luxurious lifestyle, she faces off bankrupt problem. To save her situation, she helplessly plans a musical liveshow – Megastar

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

Surfing in Vietnam

January 16, 2010

In December’s AsiaLIFE (issue 21), we printed an article by Clint Lambert on the resurgence of surfing in Vietnam in Hoi An and on the stretch of the Central Coast in Danang nicknamed “China Beach” by American G.I.s during the war. The article mostly focused on the efforts of Aussie expat Dave Spencer and the newly formed Danang Surf Club to jump start the surf scene, but also touched on the Vietnam Veterans Longboard Society (VVLS), a group of surfers and veterans that formed after the release of Between the Lines, a documentary that follows the lives of two surfers: one who went to war and another who dodged the draft and took refuge on the beaches of Hawaii.

Check out the trailer for Between the Lines below. The film can be ordered from the official website.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

Miniature Shanghai

January 5, 2010

Back in August’s Culture section of AsiaLIFE, we ran stills from a film project by expat Joe Nafis called Miniature City Saigon, in which Joe used time lapse and tilt shift photography to animate the city “in miniature.”

Recently, Joe got in contact with us from his new home in Yantai, China to let us know he’s put together a new tilt shift film, this time of Shanghai. Check it out below. It may take a few minutes to load, but patient–it’s worth it.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher