Cu Li Never Cries recounts the stifling summer days that have stirred up a whirlwind of events and emotions in the life of Lady M, a hydropower industry retiree. Upon the death of her German husband whom she has not seen for 20 years, M leaves for Berlin where she receives two inheritances: an urn and a slow loris (Cu Li). Alone in a foreign land, she encounters absurd situations as the funeral rites unfold. Lady M comes back to Hanoi only to be caught up in the fuss of a rushed wedding preparation: her niece was impregnated by a provincial boy. Adhering to her late husband’s will, M returns to the hydroelectric dam where they first met; the planning for the power plant’s anniversary is underway. Stuck between the past and the present, between anticipation and anguish, in unceasing solitude and inquietude, M arrives at her niece’s wedding in the jungle. A fire spreads. The loris to which she has grown attached disappears. In trance, M. dashes to seek for it…
As a former architect my view of the world tended to be from the perspective of an architect – structured, balanced and uniformly aligned. But the everyday experience of living in Vietnam is the opposite of this, it is chaotic, noisy and full of colors as diverse cultures coalesce and collide; tradition and modernity clashes; and shades of the country’s complex historical past contradict yet also inform our society today. From my years observing the contemporary life in Vietnam via photography, documentary and architecture perspectives, I see around me a flamboyant tropical country with great dissatisfaction hidden away from the impact of globalization. Trapped are the nameless undistinguished human beings whose fantasies live on maladroit simulacra. They carry on their lives while fruitlessly searching for happiness. I plan to satirically yet affectionately portray Vietnam in all its paradoxes: a film about withering entities, be them bodies, landscapes, or a regime.