Carol Nguyen is a 21-year-old Vietnamese/Canadian filmmaker based in Toronto and Montreal. Her films often explore the subjects of cultural identity and family and have screened around the globe, with her most recent film “No Crying at the Dinner Table” premiering at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Carol is a 2018 Sundance Ignite fellow and a TIFF Share Her Journey ambassador, where she strives to empower diverse voices and women through her own stories and personal experiences in the film industry. Most recently, she was selected as an Adobe Creativity Scholar. Today, Carol is continuing her passion for filmmaking at the Concordia University in Montreal.
Tara Karajica caught up with her at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
How did you get into filmmaking and what inspires you to make films?
Carol Nguyen: I attended an arts school that had a film program. I fell in love after my first year in the film program and immediately knew that I wanted to continue telling stories after school. I am inspired by experiences that I face and the people that I love. These stories are often related to family, culture or identity.
Can you talk about your short film No Crying at the Dinner Table?
C.N.: No Crying at the Dinner Table is a short documentary that stars my family, where they tell their secrets and past traumas to the camera. The film is about intergenerational trauma, family, communication and love. Overall, it’s like one big family therapy session.
How do you see the short form today?
C.N.: I think the greatest innovations in storytelling are occurring in short films. Because the short form is seemingly less risky, I see so many interesting ways that stories are being told. I see unconventional structures, experimental editing, blends of genres and so much more!
Can you talk about the situation of women in film today and being a Share Her Journey Ambassador?
C.N.: Women are still facing inequalities in the film industry today from access to resources, to gender discrimination… TIFF’s Share Her Journey campaign aims to contribute to leverage women in film through different programs, grants, events, etc. As the youngest ambassador for the campaign, seeing the changes that have been made from the older generations to mine, I am feeling very hopeful, but I know this is not nearly enough. There is still a lot of work to be done.
Who is your favorite female filmmaker and what is your favorite film by a female filmmaker?
C.N.: I can’t choose! I have many! My favorite female filmmakers include Alexandria Bombach, Lulu Wang, Vera Chytilová, Agnès Varda, Marielle Heller, Jeannie Nguyen, Domee Shi… My favorite films by a female filmmaker include Daisies, Stories We Tell, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Parent Trap, which is my favorite childhood movie!
What are your next projects?
C.N.: I will be working on a narrative short next – shooting next summer! As well, I will be heading to Vietnam very soon to start pre-production on a documentary I’m hoping so shoot within the next few years.
This interview was conducted at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.
Photo credits: © Charles Duquet