Cú và chim se se (2007) - News Poster

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The Director Of The Owl And The Sparrow And The Producers Of The Rebel Team For Hip Hop Dance Film Saigon Electric

Well, here's a combination I wouldn't have predicted.

Director Stephane Gauger had a big hit on the arthouse circuit with his indie drama The Owl and the Sparrow and is now teaming with production house Chanh Phuong Films - the backers of Vietnamese action hits The Rebel and Clash - for Vietnamese hip hop dance film Saigon Electric. In production now and aiming for December release, here's how Gauger describes the project:

In my wish of telling universal stories with a global outlook and a distinctly Vietnamese point of view, the seeds of "Saigon Electric" were planted. Continuing the themes of my first narrative feature "Owl and the Sparrow", my hope is to create a visceral landscape of the hustle and bustle in modernized Vietnam. More than half of Vietnam's current population is under the age of eighteen, born after the American War. As the doors of the West have
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Strong weekend bow for 'Paul Blart'

Strong weekend bow for 'Paul Blart'
The Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is proving bountiful for at least one shopping-mall misfit.

Sony's PG-rated comedy "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" -- starring Kevin James ("I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry") as a hapless security guard-turned-hero -- rung up an impressive $33.8 million in estimated opening grosses through Sunday. That put the Happy Madison production firmly atop the domestic boxoffice headed into the Monday holiday.

"It's a huge number, there's no doubt about it," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said.

Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" from Warner Bros. was pacing second over its second weekend of wide release, following several sessions in limited distribution. Pumping another $22.2 million it its tank this weekend, "Torino" now hauls a $73.2 million cume.

The frame's three other wide openers also loaded up on three-day coin.

Lionsgate's 3-D horror film "My Bloody Valentine" registered $21.9 million in third from a mix of extra-dimensional and conventional playdates.

Fox
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Wave rides 'Owl and the Sparrow'

Wave Releasing -- founded by Vietnamese American filmmakers Timothy Linh Bui, Stephane Gauger, Ham Tran and Wyn Tran -- will release its first film, Gauger's "Owl and the Sparrow," Friday in Los Angeles, Irvine and Westminster. Wave's focus is delivering entertainment for Vietnamese American audiences as well as mainstream indie moviegoers.

"We're at a crossroads point in indie filmmaking, and this was our way of helping to ensure that we're on the correct side as the paradigm shift occurs," Wave Releasing CEO Bui said. "Starting the company was our response (to the digital revolution) and a way for us to reclaim a strong film and storytelling legacy."

"Owl" was the Audience Award winner at the 2007 L.A. Film Festival. After its Southern California engagements, it will move on to San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and other cities.
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Owl and the Sparrow

Owl and the Sparrow
Los Angeles Film Festival

Stephane Gauger's keenly observed debut feature, Owl and the Sparrow, takes verite-style filmmaking to the streets of Saigon. With a captivating central performance by 10-year-old newcomer Pham Thi Han and an empathetic story line depicting the ordeals of urban alienation, Owl and the Sparrow is natural festival material and should nest comfortably on a strategically positioned specialty theatrical slate. The contemporary character drama recently won the audience award for best narrative feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Orphaned Thuy (Han) works in her uncle's factory, where she assists with making bamboo blinds and other accessories. Young and relatively unskilled, she is the frequent focus of his chiding reminders that he is the only family she has left. After a particularly stinging rebuke, Thuy fills her bright pink backpack with clothes and personal possessions, running off alone to Saigon and spending most of her paltry savings on the expensive boat ride.

Arriving in the big city, she has little but her own quick wits to survive on, along with the compassion of strangers. Thuy first makes an unsuccessful attempt selling postcards on the street, then joins a group of flower girls plying roses to passersby with slightly more luck.

Meanwhile, apparently single flight attendant Lan (Cat Ly) checks into a modest Saigon hotel on a five-day layover, as zookeeper Hai (Le The Lu) tends to his beloved animals on the other side of town. Wandering onto the zoo grounds on her flower rounds, Thuy quickly latches onto Hai, recognizing him as another lonely soul, who is nursing an aching heart broken by a former fiancee.

Lan is suffering her own romantic disappointments as the secret mistress of an insensitive married airline pilot. After Thuy and Lan meet at a streetside noodle stand, Lan offers to let the homeless girl share her hotel room. Their nascent friendship inspires Thuy to play matchmaker between Hai, whom she compares to an owl, and Lan, who considers herself more like a sparrow. At the same time, Thuy's uncle searches the Saigon streets for her, while menacing municipal authorities want to put the girl into an orphanage.

Except in the final scenes, where "Owl" just manages to skirt overt sentimentality, Gauger's script effectively capitalizes on the compact cast's naturalistic acting and the city's lively immediacy to provide a realistic framework as the story brings the three principal characters together as a makeshift family. A skilled cinematographer and technician with notable experience on previous Vietnam-set productions, Gauger takes to the city streets with verve, his predominantly hand-held DV lensing infusing the low-budget film with refreshing vitality.

Han's assured, slightly whimsical turn as young Thuy is the principal catalyst for the film's substantial charm, eliciting compelling sympathy and unexpected humor from sometimes grim circumstances. Ly ventures a nicely nuanced performance, her expressive features attentively convey Lan's shifting emotions, but Lu's role registers fairly weakly.

Tech aspects are fine, with the DV transfer to 35mm holding up well.

OWL AND THE SPARROW

Annam Pictures in association with Chanh Phuong Films

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Stephane Gauger

Producers: Nguyen Van Quan, Doan Nhat Nam, Stephane Gauger

Executive producers: Timothy Linh Bui, Ham Tran, Jimmy Nghiem Pham

Director of photography: Stephane Gauger

Music: Pete Nguyen

Editors: Ricardo Javier, Ham Tran

Cast:

Lan: Cat Ly

Hai: Le The Lu

Thuy: Pham Thi Han

Uncle Minh: Nguyen Hau

Running time -- 97 minutes

No MPAA rating

'Owl,' 'Resolved, 'Young' win at L.A. fest

Stephane Gauger's Owl and the Sparrow, Greg Whiteley's Resolved and Stephen Walker's Young @ Heart took audience awards for best narrative feature, best documentary feature and best international feature, respectively, at the Los Angeles Film Festival, which concluded Sunday.

As previously announced, Chris Eska's August Evening and Jennifer Venditti's Billy the Kid were the recipients of the Target Filmmaker Award for best narrative feature and the Target Documentary Award, respectively.

The filmmakers were recognized at the closing night ceremonies, organized by Film Independent, at the Wadsworth Theatre in Westwood, where Danny Boyle's Sunshine, a Fox Searchlight release, screened as the closing night film.

Dee Rees' Pariah earned the audience award for best short film, while Joseph Kahn's Knights of Cydonia was honored with the audience award for best music video for the band Muse.

In the short film juried categories, Radu Jude's The Tube With a Hat was chosen best narrative short film, David Fenster's Wood was named best documentary short film and Fredrik Emilson's Love and War was selected best animated/experimental short film.

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