Finding Phong

DIRECTORS: Swann Dubus, Tran Phuong Thao

North American Premiere

Expected to attend: Directors Swann Dubus and Tran Phuong Thao, Subject Le Anh Phong, Producers Gerald Herman and Nicole Pham

Part intimate video diary and part traditional documentary, Finding Phong spans more than a year in the life of Phong, a twentysomething transwoman from a small village in Vietnam. Phong is living and studying Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, as she begins her transition. After she returns to her home from an initial trip to Thailand (as gender confirmation surgery has only recently become available in Vietnam) and begins taking hormones, Phong slowly comes out of her shell. Refreshingly frank, the film highlights the depth and supreme relief of this process—thanks to Phong’s occasional use of a hand-held camera to build chapters in a video diary. Along the way, Phong learns that her transition is much more than physical, and that becoming a woman involves more than hormones and surgery.

The youngest of six children, Phong must reconcile her family to her transition. While her older siblings are supportive, her elderly parents take a little more convincing. “I’ve had nearly thirty years of sadness,” she tells her reluctant mother during a Lunar New Year visit. “You should be happy that my dream is about to come true.” Phong’s 72-year-old mother and 87-year-old father do want what’s best for their child, even when it’s hard for them to understand. Eventually, with the support of her friends and family, Phong makes the final trip back to Thailand to complete her transformation. From start to end, the difference in Phong throughout her journey and the complexity of family love and acceptance are astounding.

— Mordecai Stayton

In Vietnamese with English subtitles.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D309

Co-presented by:
Center for Asian American Media

Get the Frameline Festival App

A festival in your pocket

FilmFest is a simple, easy to use pocket guide to all the films in this year's festival.

Frameline36 app available now!