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A Dream In Hanoi

Two theater companies, one American, one Vietnamese, collaborate to produce A Midsummer Night's Dream in Hanoi.

A printer-friendly version of this page 91 minutes
Produced by Tom Weidlinger
Narrated by F. Murray Abraham
Edited by Maureen Gosling
Funded by The Lincoln Lillian Foundation
A Moira Productions film in association with Dateline Productions

"A tremendously moving record...lovingly crafted." Variety
Twenty five years after the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese and Americans join forces in a unique collaboration. Two theater companies, one American and one Vietnamese, come together to stage the first performance in Vietnam of Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. This spirited tale follows the actors, directors, producers and technicians from both countries as they struggle to surmount the huge obstacles of language, culture, ideology, and a history of war on their journey to opening night at Hanoi's famous Opera House.

The film features Vietnam's renowned theater, the Central Dramatic Company of Vietnam, and actors and staff from the Artists Repertory Theater in Portland, Oregon. Music is performed by artists of Vietnam's National Theater of Music and Dance and the Cheo Theater of Hanoi.

A DREAM IN HANOI is the first American documentary about American/Vietnamese relations that does not focus on the Vietnam war or its legacy of human suffering.

In English and Vietnamese with English subtitles.

Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2002     Copyright Date: 2002
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-236-X     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-984-3

"A tremendously moving record of the first collaboration between theater companies from both countries...lovingly crafted."
Ken Eisner, VARIETY

"A treat to behold."

"A hilarious study in miscommunication."

"Hilarious and illuminating..."

"One of those documentaries that greatly surpasses the promise of its subject matter."

"(Weidlinger) allows his subjects to incriminate and venerate themselves in what seem like the right proportions. It's heartening to know that the Vietnamese 'tradition of shyness' and the American tradition (à la MTV's Jackass) of braying for attention can be irksome and endearing -- and, for creative purposes, mutually beneficial."
Jonathan Kiefer, SF WEEKLY

"A rare and fascinating inside look at the making of a small bicultural miracle...swift, sometimes funny and always compelling..."

"Fascinating and funny...To say that the two cultures have different artistic approaches would be quite an understatement....Their squabbling, however, makes for a very entertaining documentary, which manages to upstage Shakespeare's classic story."

"The film succeeds due to Weidlinger's brave ability to show everyone in a realistic light...The play comes off beautifully...And we in the audience find our time justified and possibly even well spent."

"Highly entertaining and well-paced..."

"An unforgettable testament to the power of drama as a tool for overcoming cultural differences...As a theater professional, I found A DREAM IN HANOI an experience of true catharsis. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to learn from the experience of two very different peoples reaching across vast frontiers."
Dominica Borg, Asst. Professor, Theatre Dept., University of Massachusetts--Amherst

"Without trying very hard, the movie speaks volumes about the Pacific Rim culture clash and the pitfalls of any artistic collaboration, and its optimistic conclusion is as profoundly touching as anything you're liable to see in this year's festival. Best Picks of Festival. "

"What begins with tears of frustration ends with sincere tears of farewell. This experiment in theater was worthwhile; it's twice as worthwhile to watch how it came together."
Richard von Busack, METRO SILICON VALLEY

"Even in the adverse conditions of a language barrier...actors still have the same fundamental struggle: How do I make this character clear to the audience? And--How do I tell this story so that everyone will understand...It is a good exercise in filmmaking, an interesting topic for theatre people, and those interested in learning about other cultures..."
Anne Lewis, Associate Professor/Actress, DeSales University, Performing and Fine Arts Dept.

"This is an excellent video for both public and academic libraries. The subject matter is presented in a unique and accessible way...a must see for any library that wants a well-rounded collection of Shakespearean videos, important addition to any library specializing in multicultural studies. Highly Recommended."
Beth A. Kattelman, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Educational Media Reviews Online

"A fascinating study of cultural differences and a testament to the power of friendships that result when people persevere in spite of those differences...heartening...and poignant..."
Becky Luening, President, Vietnam Friendship Village Project--US Committee

"A study of how American cultural imperialism can subvert both a classic British text and indigenous Asian culture...With residual tensions from the war always in the background, the F. Murray Abraham--narrated A DREAM IN HANOI offers an interesting contrasting text to James Ivory's Shakespeare Wallah (the seminal film on the Bard's essential universality), providing interesting insights...into incongruities between cultures. Recommended."
Video Librarian

"Entertaining, enlightening...well produced. The pacing is good, the interviews are well selected, and the subtitles are interesting, if not essential...recommended for young teens and older audiences. Theater departments and/or Eastern studies classes would find this particularly useful."
Daniel B. Schuetz, Library Journal

"A rich portrait... Weidlinger's ethnographic presence, an exercise in showing as well as telling, makes this film far superior to some other treatments of young westerners working in Asia... A Dream in Hanoi would enhance any college-level discussion of cross-cultural experiences and how culture and linguistics affects communication

Select your institution type

A Dream in Hanoi web site

Awards and Festivals
Festival Favorite/Audience Award, Sedona International Film Festival
Best Documentary, Moab Film Festival
Opening Night Gala Film, Film Arts Foundation Film Festival
Nominated for Best Documentary, Hawaii International Film Festival
Nominated for Best Documentary, Ashland Independent Film Festival
Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Visual Anthropology Film/Video Festival, American Anthropological Association Conference
Seattle International Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival
Hawaii International Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival
Newport Beach Film Festival
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival
Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival
Asian Film Festival of Dallas
Fairfax Documentary Film Festival
Films From the South (Oslo, Norway)

Asian Studies
Conflict Resolution
Cross Cultural Communication
Multicultural Studies
Performing Arts
War and Peace

Related Titles

A Dream In Hanoi (Short Version)
Two theater companies, one American, one Vietnamese, collaborate to produce A Midsummer Night's Dream in Hanoi.

The Friendship Village
An international group of veterans builds a village in Vietnam for children with Agent Orange-related deformities.

My Hanoi
Tour of rapidly urbanizing Hanoi, and the effect on citizens and culture.

Rising Above
Vietnamese women build on experiences of war.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
A video guide to the loveliest of Shakespeare's romantic comedies.

The Merchant of Venice
A video guide to the play from Shylock's point of view.

Romeo and Juliet
A video guide to this cautionary tale of teenage love.

A video guide to Shakespeare's most famous play.

A video guide to Shakespeare's "tragedy of blood".

Blue Snake
Preparation and premiere of Robert Desrosiers' futuristic ballet.

... more Reviews

. It could also be used effectively in a high school humanities curriculum, exposing students to Vietnam and the Vietnamese while teaching them about the complexities of producing a Shakespeare play."
Asian Educational Media Service, News and Reviews

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