Interview with Filmmaker Minnie Nguyen (SLEEPLESS IN SAIGON)

Directed by Minnie Nguyen
Saigon, Vietnam – 1972 – Two men who come from two backgrounds fall in love at first sight – a love story between a Vietnamese tailor and an American customer.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Our friends were getting married and one of the grooms wanted to create a love letter to his husband, imagining what their lives would be like if they were to meet in the 70s in Saigon. I thought it would be a meaningful project for the LGBTQ+ community by demonstrating more diversity within the community, as well as showcasing Vietnamese culture/etiquette to the world.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

1.5 months

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Delightful and Cultured.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

We were fortunate enough to be the first film production that takes place in the historic Maharajah House in Santa Ana. The structure that we shot in is over 200 years old and was brought over brick-by-brick from Vietnam. Since we had only one day of shooting, we had to plan our day very well to the minute. In addition, the structure is relatively small and contains a lot of historic artifacts from Vietnam. Therefore, that added a lot of tension when we were changing setups. Fortunately, thanks for the dedication of my crew members, we did all the prep work that we needed and everything turned out nicely! I’m very grateful to have such a
wonderful team.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

In awe of how the film has affected the audience in different ways! It was a meaningful experience.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

2012, when I was studying in Vancouver, Canada. The bus home never arrived so I walked home. It was snowing and raining at the same time, beautifully. Moments like that make you think about life. It gave me time to wonder. I wondered if everything would be worth it in the end.

I wondered if there was something that I would like to do every day without getting bored. It was a productive walk because I arrived home choosing to tell stories – so I can experience a little bit of everything for the rest of my life.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Memoirs of a Geisha.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Guide filmmakers through the distribution process and provide distributioning tips.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Convenient and straightforward.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Eggs and Vietnamese baguette.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I am currently working on a feature and focusing more on the business side for WDA Entertainment. I look forward to helping more AAPI young filmmakers and artists who dare to dream.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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