FADE IN: EXT. STORAGE – CU CHI – DAY

2010

This short film, made in collaboration with Superflex, is a re-enactment based on actual events that occurred at the Ho Chi Minh customs department in regards to a shipment of movie props produced in Viet Nam for a television drama set in Viet Nam, sent to The Netherlands and back again. The title of the film is the entire script.

 

FADE IN: EXT. STORAGE – CU CHI – DAY Close up of dusty wooden pieces being moved from inside a storage facility to an outside area. Pieces are laid out. There are MEN working with their shirts off. Suddenly we hear a PHONE RING. FEDEX (V.O.) FedEx, Ho Chi Minh City, how can I help you. TUNG (V.O.) I received an email that my shipment from Holland was damaged and confiscated. FEDEX (V.O.) What’s the tracking number? TUNG (V.O.) 8 5 6 9 1 3 – FEDEX (V.O.) I’m sorry. From the beginning please. TUNG (V.O.) Sorry. Are you ready now? FEDEX (V.O.) Go ahead. TUNG (V.O.) 8 – 6 –  5 –  6 – You got that? FEDEX Yes, continue. TUNG 6 – 9 – 1 – 3 – 3 – 6 – 0 – 5 – 4 FEDEX (V.O.) 8 6 5 6 6 9 1 – TUNG (V.O.) (frustrated) No no no… just one 6…FEDEX (V.O.) Again from the beginning. (beat) TUNG (V.O.) (frustrated) 8 – 6 – 5 – 6 – 9 – 1 – 3 – 3 – 6 – 0 – 5 – 4 FEDEX (V.O.) Please hold…(beat) Sir, your shipment was confiscated because customs found two guns inside the shipment which are prohibited items in Viet Nam. You will have to pay a fine. TUNG (V.O.) Yes, that’s in the email. But there’s been a misunderstanding. FEDEX (V.O.) The total cost to release the shipment is $9,573.20, the guns will be seized. TUNG (V.O.) What? But they aren’t even real weapons.  FEDEX (V.O.) I also have a note that there’s a broken vase in the shipment. TUNG (V.O.) Those wooden things you’re calling weapons were actually bought in Viet Nam as props for a television show here. They’re not even real! FEDEX (V.O.) They have lighter fluid in them. That’s a dangerous explosive substance.TUNG (V.O.) (impatient) It’s a toy lighter in the shape of an old gun. It’s an old gun. Wait no, it’s not a gun. It’s just a piece of wood. It just looks like an old pirate’s gun. FEDEX (V.O.) If they’re fake why are they in a historical collection and why would you send them out of Viet Nam in the first place? TUNG (V.O.) Well, it’s a long story. We shot a television series based on actual historic events that were an important part of Dutch history. And we sent the props from the series to Holland for an exhibition there, and they loved them so much that they decided to add them to their collection. FEDEX Why would a Dutch TV show be made in Viet Nam? TUNG (fumbling) It’s not a Dutch TV show, it was made for Vietnamese television. It’s a love story called Porcelain. (frantic) You wouldn’t understand, it’s complicated.  FEDEX (V.O.) I remember seeing that series on TV a while ago. It was on VTV4 right? TUNG (V.O.) (relieved, excited) Yes, yes, that’s right… Wow, you saw the show? FEDEX Yes, I did. (beat) But it was a little difficult to understand. There were people from the past trying to speak to people in the present… and then mixed within a love story… very moving – (beat) But got too confusing. TUNG (V.O.) It’s a story where a woman in the present tries to effect the life of a woman in the past. That was the main idea behind this series. FEDEX (V.O.) Doesn’t it usually happen the other way around? Someone in the past would try to change something in the future? What you’re talking about only happens in science fiction movies, not dramas. TUNG (V.O.) (given up) Yes, but this is special, it’s not just an ordinary love story. We try to use a love story to challenge notions of history. FEDEX (V.O.) In what sense? TUNG (V.O.) Well, the story is based on the first shipment of porcelain from Asia to Europe, some 400 years ago. It was stolen by Dutch pirates and auctioned off. It was extremely valuable because nobody knew how to make it. In the end, the porcelain that was sold helped to solidify Holland’s financial status and helped them gain independence from Spain and – FEDEX (V.O.) (interrupting) I would suggest you rethink it all. TUNG (V.O.) :O What??? FEDEX (V.O.) (matter-of-fact) Your ideas about authenticity are too simplistic. The staging of history is happening around us all the time. We basically live in a staged version of the past – TUNG (stutters) But – FEDEX (continued) As if the past was a mall where you could pick and choose your lifestyle as easily as choosing a new wardrobe. How is your story any different from that? TUNG (V.O.) (confused) I’m not sure – I mean – I don’t – (scrambling) I don’t even care much about authenticity. FEDEX (V.O.) That’s exactly my point! You should care. Stop being so ironic and use something real for your show. TUNG (hesitant) Well… what should I do with this shipment from Holland then? FEDEX (V.O.) Well, if a toy gun and fake props from Vietnam have become important relics in Dutch history…As the final things are packed into the truck, from around the corner of the house, we see TUNG, a young man, dressed in casual office clothes, as he steps from behind a corner holding a cellphone. Moments pass. TUNG speaks. FEDEX (cont’d) Then why not just send it all back to them? TUNG You’re saying that I shouldn’t have anything in the exhibition then. FEDEX (V.O.) I’m saying that you should pick something authentic from Viet Nam – (pauses) From that era we have magnificent wood carvings, for instance. There are also – Tung removes the phone from his ear. The truck, now full with wood pillars, begins to roll. It reveals Tung as he stands quietly. We hear the clicking sound of the phone being hung up. FADE TO BLACK.

The film was shot on location in Cu Chi, documenting the loading of large pieces of wood onto a truck. These pieces eventually became the installation at San Art gallery where the video was also installed, bringing moments of real and fake into direct interaction with each other.

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