Quyên Nguyen-Le’s short films explore politics and relationships from a queer Vietnamese perspective

Quyên Nguyen-Le’s “Hoài (Ongoing/Memory)” will screen at the 2019 Viet Film Fest on Oct. 13. It’s the filmmaker’s third short to screen at the Viet Film Festival since the “Youth In Motion” program in 2015.(Jourdan Christopher)

By ADA TSENG (Daily Pilot)

Quyên Nguyen-Le laughed when they (the filmmaker’s preferred pronoun) talked about “Love Stinks!” — the 2016 short they made for the Viet Film Fest’s “Youth In Motion: A Workshop for Emerging Filmmakers” program.

It’s a comedic short about a young woman insecure about her sexuality. The characters innocently walk around, carrying different fruits — a notoriously foul-smelling durian, a bunch of overeager bananas, a snooty pineapple — symbolizing their unique genitalia.

“My friend was like, ‘Did you really make a film [that hints at] masturbation and screen it to a family-friendly audience with kids?’ ” Nguyen-Le said of their debut entry into the festival.

Though “Love Stinks!” is a light-hearted twist on a rom-com, Nguyen-Le’s other work — including “Hoài (Ongoing/Memory),” screening at this year’s Viet Film Fest, which takes place at the AMC Orange from Oct. 11 to 13 — is more serious, grappling with their identity as a queer and gender non-conforming Vietnamese American.

As an overachieving student at USC (graduating with two majors, comparative literature and philosophy, politics and law, as well as two minors, cinematic arts and Spanish), Nguyen-Le took a film production class taught by actor/director James Franco, where he proposed students make short films inspired by the poetry of Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges.

It was Nguyen-Le’s first taste of Hollywood, but they soon realized that success in the mainstream film wasn’t what they were chasing. They had their own questions that needed answering.

Nguyen-Le’s first independent documentary, “Queer Vietnameseness,” followed three Vietnamese Americans who identify as queer: a post-punk graphic designer, an academic/activist and Nguyen-Le’s cousin, a claims adjuster.

Hoài (Ongoing/Memory)” (vietfilmfest.com/movie/hoai-ongoing-memory/) will screen at the 2019 Viet Film Fest on Oct. 13 at 3:30 p.m. Nguyen-Le will also be moderating a panel on Oct. 12 from 5 to 6 p.m. called “From Script to Screen: Pathways and Possibilities” at with Leon Le (“Song Lang”), Maegan Houang (“In Full Bloom”), Van B. Nguyen (“Thanksgiving), and Thien A. Pham (“Actress Wanted”), and participating in a panel called “Reconciling Homelands” on Oct. 13 from 5 to 6 p.m. with Tim Tsai and Thao Ha of “Seadrift” and Allison Vo from the social justice organization VietRISE.

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