Madam Phung's Last Journey

Madame Phung is a middle-aged drag queen who runs a traveling carnival in Vietnam; this documentary follows her troupe over the course of a few months as they cross the country and entertain small, unappreciative crowds. Director Tham Nguyen Thi achieves an impressive degree of intimacy with her subjects, many of them queer or transgender, as they drink, bicker, and explain how much trouble LGBT people have finding steady employment in Vietnam. This is a lively film but also a sad one—most of these people stick to the carnival life because they can’t find acceptance anywhere else. Thi works in short takes and employs lots of disjunctive edits, her jumpy aesthetic conveying her subjects’ anxiety. In Vietnamese with subtitles.