The Third Wife

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Vietnam | 2018 | 94 minutes | Ash Mayfair

May, a 14-year-old girl in 19th-century Vietnam enters a dysfunctional polygamous marriage to an older wealthy landlord who demands a male heir in this beautiful, sensuously shot tale that interrogates the patriarchal practices of both May’s time and our own.

"Debut director Ash Mayfair delivers a gorgeously intimate, evocative, and melancholy story of female subjugation in 19th-century Vietnam"—Variety

In director Ash Mayfair's depiction of 19th-century Vietnamese farm life, the days move along with the slow rhythms of the seasons and the labor-intensive practices that accompany them. When 14-year-old May (Nguyễn Phương Trà My) is betrothed to Hung (Vũ Long), the child bride awakens not only to the complex truths of sexuality, but also to the dynamics at play between her and Hung's other wives. After covertly witnessing a tryst between Hung's son (Nguyễn Như Quỳnh Lê) and Hung's second wife Xuan (Mai Thu Hường), May finds herself exploring her own budding desires, despite having few options available to express those yearnings, given the confined strictures of her circumstances. Will May be able to discover some form of agency for herself? In her feature-length debut, Mayfair builds a densely layered backdrop of carefully captured details, grounding the pursuits of her human characters against the daily warp and weft of silkworms in the fields and other natural forces at play. A supremely confident and elegant production, The Third Wife deftly interrogates the patriarchal practices of both May's time and our own, presenting us with a heroine who courageously pushes against the limitations placed upon her.

Nick Bruno

Director Biography
Ash Mayfair was born and grew up in Vietnam, then moved to New York where she received an MFA in filmmaking from NYU. Ash's short films, including The Silver Man, Heart Of A Doll, and No Exit, have been shown by numerous film festivals the world over. The Third Wife is her debut feature film, its screenplay having won the Spike Lee Production Fund in 2014 and was on the NYU Purple List 2015.

Sponsored by 425 Magazine, Greater Seattle Vietnam Association, Katherine and David DeBruyn

  • Original Language Title: Phuong Anh Nguyen
  • Director: Ash Mayfair
  • Principal Cast: Trần Nữ Yên Khê, Mai Thu Hường, Nguyễn Phương Trà My, Nguyễn Như Quỳnh Lê, Vũ Long
  • Country: Vietnam
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 94 minutes
  • Producer: Trần Thị Bích Ngọc, Ash Mayfair
  • Screenplay: Ash Mayfair
  • Cinematographers: Chananun Chotrungroj
  • Editors: Julie Beziau
  • Music: Tôn Thất An
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Chicago International Film Festival, 2018 (Gold Hugo Winner); Toronto International Film Festival, 2018 (Netpac Award); Cairo International Film Festival, 2018 (Best Artistic Contribution); Minsk International Film Festival, 2018 (Special Mention of the Jury); San Sebastián International Film Festival, 2018 (TVE Otra Miranda Award)
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: Vietnamese
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Film Movement
  • International Sales: m-appeal