Mrs. Bua’s Carpet

Xóm mới

- VIETNAM / 2011 / Vietnamese / Color / HDV (SD) / 35 min

Director, Script, Photography: Duong Mong Thu
Editing: Nguyen Thi Hao
Sound: Pham Hong Lien, Nguyen Thu Hong
Producer: Andre Vaain
Source: Duong Mong Thu

In a village whose residents were on both sides during the Vietnam War, people drink together and share their war experiences. Mrs. Bua does her laundry as she reflects on how she was a newlywed at the time, later brushing her hair as she tells the story of her torture at the hands of American soldiers. Her neighbors watch over her as she survives with her trauma, for they too have scars. The war experiences Mrs. Bua and her neighbors share in their everyday lives become the collective memory of their village, and are engraved in this film.

[Director’s Statement] In 2011, when I participated in the Ateliers Varan workshop, the task was to make films about the postwar. I remembered a television program I had once seen about Mrs. Bua, a woman still suffering from war trauma, and I tracked down her home. As I did, I was surprised to learn that she had been a friend of my mother––they both were held in the same internment camp run by the American puppet government. They fell out of touch when my mother was transferred to another camp.

I began to see Mrs. Bua in my mother, and my mother in Mrs. Bua. My mother was tortured while she was interned, and still has recurring pain. Mrs. Bua also received severe punishment. She has lasting trauma from the war, and frequently goes into convulsions. These spasms can last between one and two hours, during which she relives her tortures. Fortunately, she is able to sense the spasms as they come on, and when she feels the early symptoms she spreads a carpet in front of her house. When the villagers see this, they rush over to help her, no matter how busy they are.

When I began making this film, I learned that Mrs. Bua’s convulsions had ceased about two years ago. This filled me with joy. Mrs. Bua could live without the agony of torture. However, it was a roadblock for the film, so I changed my focus from Mrs. Bua to her community. Many people in her village were involved in the war, both on the Communist and the American side. Nevertheless, they live in the same village, and help each other. Their memories of the war have not faded, and are always present in their life, talked about every day and every night.

Thus, my film Mrs. Bua’s Carpet was made.

- Duong Mong Thu

Duong Mong Thu graduated in Literature from Hue Scientific University in 1999. Since 2000, she has been working for Vietnam Television in Da Nang City, with the titles of reporter and editor. She has produced many documentary films for TV; some of her films have won awards in national television festivals. She underwent a training course in documentary film directing for television in the Philippines in 2007, and participated in the Imaging Our Mekong 2007 project. Then she produced a documentary film with the theme of HIV across the border between Vietnam and Cambodia; the film was screened in the Mekong river region. Currently her main job is journalism, in addition to participating in the workshop “Varan in Da Nang.” As a documentary film for Varan, she made The Man Hanging Banners and Slogans in 2010 and filmed Mrs. Bua’s Carpet in 2011. Now, she is working on a new film, My Father.