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The directorial debut from Nguyen Phuong Anh, also known as Ash Mayfair, won the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) award at last week's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

The Third Wife tells the story of a 14-year-old girl in northern Vietnam who becomes the third wife of a wealthy 19th-century landowner and must learn the family's complex dynamics. VietnamNet reports that the festival judges remarked, "Ash Mayfair’s debut feature The Third Wife signaled the emergence of a young female director-writer whose aesthetic sensibilities, cinematic language, and extraordinary ability to illuminate the past for contemporary audiences augur well for the future of Vietnamese and world cinema.”

Anh was born in Vietnam and grew up in the US and UK, where she studied film and theater. She has also directed several short works. Of The Third Wifeshe said, "The inspirations for The Third Wife have surrounded me all my life. Many of the women in my family lived through both the French Indochina War and the Vietnam War. The stories I inherited were always filled with life-and-death situations. The characters in my film, especially the three wives, are drawn from a collection of true stories and real people."

The movie was produced by An Nam Films and Three Color Productions. The former is an independent operation aimed at fostering freedom for filmmakers, while the latter has support from the Vietnamese Broadcasting Corporation in promoting Vietnamese works. 

The film stars Nhu Quynh, Tran Nu Yen Khe, Maya, Tra My and Lam Thanh My. The score, by Vietnamese composer Aaken, has been described as the "perfect addition to the images of the film, their beauty, but also their much darker underbelly."

There is no word on when the film is slated for domestic screens, but later this month it will compete in the New Directors category at the Saint Sebastien International Film Festival in Spain on September 21-29, and will premiere in Asia at the "A Window on Asian Cinema" program at the Busan International Film Festival this October.

Have a look at the movie's trailer below:

[Video via YouTube channel TIFF Trailers


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