A Vietnamese documentary on a gay man who founded a travelling minstrel troupe of transgender people has taken Vietnam by story for its sensitive and true portrayal of the gay community in Vietnam.
The movie Madam Phung's Last Journey recently played to sold-out rooms in Ho Chi Minh City and is now currently showing in the national capital Ha Noi.
Distributor Blue Productions originally planned to screen the documentary only 16 times in Ho Chi Minh City but had to organize more shows to meet increasing demand, reported vietnamnet.vn.
"I decide to distribute the documentary because it is a really good film," Hong Anh, the company director was quoted as saying and hoped that the screening will improve the quality of life for the LGBT community.
"It's great for me and the distributor as well that the documentary has been warmly received by audiences," film director Nguyen Thi Tham told vietnamnet.vn.
The documentary was screened at Ha Noi's French Cultural Centre with three screenings every day from December 29 to January 3.
Office worker Truong Hong Ngan saw the first screening at the French Cultural Centre after she heard about the documentary from a colleague and reading positive reviews in online newspapers.
"My colleague met the director," Ngan told vietnamnet.vn. "She was impressed after talking with the director and urged those working in our office to watch the film."
The film tells the story of Phung, a gay travelling singer with a critical illness and focuses on the country's gay community.
Phung is a gay man who as a Buddhist monk fell in love with another man. So he decided to return to his secular life and formed a travelling troupe of transgender people who like him were considered “social outcasts” and in need of support from one another and to earn a living.
There are more than 100 such troupes in the country, mostly in remote areas and are very popular in south Vietnam. Most of the troupes' members are gay and lack awareness about health care.
As a transgender person, Phung was discriminated against in society and unable to get a regular job."Discriminated against by people around them, they dream of living as women who are loved by men and have children," Tham told vietnamnet.vn. "Deep inside they are normal people with emotions of love and hate. They live together and obey the law."
Tham was intrigued by the adventurous life adopted by Phung and had joined him for some time. Filming began in 2009 and was completed in March this year. Phung passed away soon after the filming was done.