News / Asia

'Saigon Electric' Bridges Old, New Vietnam Through Dance

The clash and combination of old and new Vietnam are at the heart of Saigon Electric, a new film by writer-director Stephane Gauger that recently won the Best Narrative Feature Award at the Philadelphia Asian Film Festival.

The movie follows a local hip hop dance crew called Saigon Fresh as it challenges the national champions, North Killaz from Hanoi, for a chance to compete internationally in South Korea. At the center of the story is an unlikely friendship between the rebellious hip hop dancer Kim and shy Mai, a traditional ribbon dancer who left her home in the countryside to pursue her dreams in the big city.

Scenes courtesy Saigon Electric

Listen to Stephane Gauger's interview with VOA's Sarah Williams:

Gauger says the contrast is intentional.

“That theme, the yin and the yang, of having two friends, one being a traditional dancer, and one being a hip hop dancer, is addressing some of the things I think are important about Vietnam now, which is a changing society,” he said. “What’s happening in Vietnam is that the new modernization is, in my mind, endangering the old traditions.”

He underscores the national growing pains in the personal struggles of the young dancers as they come of age. A romance blooms between Mai and the Saigon Fresh captain, Doboy, as they teach each other the meaning of hip hop and the tradition of ribbon dancing. As that unfolds, street-savvy Kim becomes infatuated with Hai, the son of a rich family who woos Kim with glimpses of a better future.

“I would say that teens everywhere in the world are going to have the same issues. The issues with belonging, the issues of fitting in, the issues of class. Because in Saigon Electric, we have a classic poor girl-rich boy scenario. But I wanted to address that in a new fashion with Vietnam because one of the things I wanted to address in the film was modernization as the country is developing,” Gauger said.

The community center where Saigon Fresh practices is threatened by a developer planning to tear down the building to make room for a hotel. The dancers appeal to city officials to intervene, but the authorities say they can’t stand in the way of change. Gauger says as Vietnam develops economically, urbanization is changing the fabric of the communities. Perhaps an inevitable development, but one he says is worth reflection.

Gauger has personal ties to Vietnam, and to the struggle of fitting in. He was born to a Vietnamese mother and American father in Ho Chi Minh City, known as Saigon before the war-torn North and South merged in 1976. He moved to the United States when he was five and nurtured his Asian roots through his Vietnamese grandmother who lived with the family.
He returned to his birthplace in 1995 for a film project after college and realized the potential of doing movies in and about Vietnam.

“The industry in Vietnam is burgeoning as more screens are being built and the population has more disposable income to go see films,” he said.

Gauger said he also wants to pursue a drama series for U.S. television.  But his fascination with the old and the new is unwavering. The series would be set in San Francisco’s Chinatown at the turn of the last century.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs