A unique-looking and young Vietnamese girl is the subject of this short documentary. While she may be attracting photographers from all over the world, both she and her family still have to deal with poverty.
As soon as Alireza Mirasadollah’s fifteen-minute documentary starts, you are presented with a plethora of beautiful cinematography capturing the stunning landscapes of Vietnam; from rice fields to storks in rivers, from sand dunes to the suburban slums, great care has certainly been taken to ensure The Girl with Blue Eyes is a beautiful looking film.
The titular girl is eleven-year-old An Phuoc. In the allotted runtime, we get to hear about her and her family’s life and how she has coped with poverty and even bullying at school due to her appearance. Like her father, An Phuoc has been called names such as “Cat Eyes”, yet there is something beautiful about the way she stands out from the crowd, as does her older sister Sapa, who is unique in her own way, for she has one eye that is brown and one eye as blue as the ocean.
We get to learn about how An Phuoc’s mother was so close to getting her aborted, having already had five children and was a grandmother. It wasn’t until the doctor at the abortion clinic convinced her that having a baby was a good thing and one extra child wouldn’t be too much of a hindrance. Now, eleven years later, she admits that she did the right thing and that An Phuoc had changed all their lives for the better.
Through the narration of An Phuoc and her mother, we learn that one of An Phuoc’s brothers had passed away. Both he and his friend had found an old bomb from the Vietnam war and, believing that it had gold inside, they decided to crack it open. The bomb exploded, killing both boys. It’s another tragic chapter in a life full of heartache and pain.
An Phuoc’s uniqueness has brought photographers from all over the world, all wanting and willing to pay for a chance to capture her distinct look. This has brought in mixed results. Though they have been willing to pay so that An Phuoc’s mother can afford to buy school books with the earnings, many of the photographers have been rude and unpleasant, one even as going as far as to drive her out to a desert and then, after taking the photographs, driving away and leaving her in the said desert, miles from home, lost.
If I had one niggle with the short film, it would be with the translation of the subtitles. A lot of it is in broken English and, while still easy to understand, it would look far more professional if translated so that is grammatically correct. It’s an easy fix to do and I hope they take heed.
The Girl with Blue Eyes is a short and splendid-looking film that doesn’t overstay its welcome and never becomes boring. An Phuoc and her family lead an interesting life and, I hope we get to see more of her in the future as she ages and becomes a photographer herself.
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