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Review: Flapping In The Middle Of Nowhere


Diep Hoang Nguyen is a triple threat in her debut feature film; producing, writing and directing a melee of sensual, provocative and strange themes in Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere.

 The Vietnamese born director who graduated from the Film director’s programme at Stage and Film University in Vietnam has previously won SACD and ACID awards at Cannes Critics week for the feature she produced Bi, Don’t be Afraid. Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere scooped the Best Film nod at Venice International Film Critics’ week, is a sure fire artistic hit.

Diep introduces us to Huyen a struggling student who lives with her boyfriend in Vietnam’s desperate and dilapidated slums of Hanoi. After finding herself pregnant Huyen decides that an abortion is the only way forward however, she seemingly has made a definitive decision the teenager struggles to raise funds for the procedure and to bring herself to the point of no return by completing the procedure. Her boyfriend though seemingly supportive at the start with his get-money-fast schemes eventually falls into the black-hole that is gambling and eventually makes off with the money saved for the abortion. Huyen; finding herself in a desperate situation stumbles on shaky fledgling feet (at the suggestion of her trans best friend) into prostitution.

Diep manages to lead the film in a natural and stylistic manner into features narrative. The characterisation by the actors is careful and not overpowering; they are believable in their roles simply because they are not trying to act; they lose themselves in their characters lives and choices; with Diep steadily setting a sensual and languid pace and tone. Diep guides her film so well the entire film feels so natural; her style provocative, seducing her audience with her smart choices. The humour in the film feels erotic and artful and not contrived for laughter but simply adding to the actor’s characterisation.

Pierre Aviat makes a great interpretation of Diep’s script and artistic intention and Quang Minh Pham effortless and sure cinematography to provide a musical score that is sexy and calm; fitting right into Diep’s sensual acts as the ribbon on top of a truly interesting cinematic experience.

Amanda Ndaba is a graduate of AFDA, having studied Film & Live Performance. She is currently pursuing a career in 
creative writing.

The 36th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, , KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, Gauteng Film Commission, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and a range of other valued partners.






Sharlene Versfeld / Ayanda Mabanga


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