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1.5.13: Still Life

The temperature has dropped again, with a chilly omnipresent drizzle falling down. Over this 24-hour period, our four film shoots take place during the dark hours; each segment feeling like a surreal segment in a series of still lifes. At 1 am, Hang shoots the deserted alleyway behind her cement apartment block. At 3 am, Tung takes a motorcycle ride from the other side of the Red River, over Long Bien Bridge and the bustling night market and past Ho Chi Minh square. At 8 pm, Hien and Phuong document life in a little cake shop run by a Vietnamese-Romanian family. At 10 pm, we ride the bus with Hang, eat corn on the cob on the back of tiny Japanese motor bikes racing through the slick, busy streets and taste hot sweet potatoes from a vendor near Hanoi’s most polluted river with Thu. The neighborhood is so dicey (“That’s the street where they eat dog,” Thu tells us matter of factly) that someone actually stops to ask us if we’re lost and need directions out of there. As the midnight hour approaches again, Duc captures the feeling of the waking dream in the almost-empty streets. People have started little fires to keep warm. Rats run wires. Men ride by on bicycles with recorded messages mournfully calling out “Sticky Rice… Sticky Rice…” into the silence. Neon blinks and sputters, advertising electronics and love hotels. It’s like living Bladerunner…

 

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