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‘Accidental Getaway Driver’ brings tears and Asian pride to Sundance

Tears and Asian pride flooded the stage after the Sundance premiere Driver accidental escapethe feature film debut of old commercials and music video director Sing J. Lee.

Based on true events where a Vietnamese driver is kidnapped by three convicts and uses them to escape, the story seems poised for an ‘action thriller’ adaptation. But Lee had other plans when he first read the 2017 GK article on which it is based.

“It seemed like it could be a certain kind of movie,” Lee said during the movie’s Q&A after the screening. “But I immediately saw four people in this story who could embody so many parts of my own family and life experiences or seen in my parents’ lives. I saw something so tender and fragile that I have not seen so much in the West. And I just felt this drive to create something with this story because I was afraid what the other version of this story might be.

Instead of a Security, the Michael Mann film starring Jamie Foxx as a taxi driver who is held captive by a hit man played by Tom Cruise, Lee’s film is a meditation on loneliness and the meaning of family, all steeped in Vietnamese culture. Most of the dialogue is in Vietnamese, the story sees an elderly rental driver pick up three passengers who turn out to be dangerous escaped prisoners. One of the men, fluent in Vietnamese, develops a bond with the driver and finds himself caught between his dark makeshift family of fugitive prisoners and the light of possible redemption offered by a man old enough to be his father.

“Just being surrounded by Vietnamese Americans, telling stories about Vietnamese Americans unrelated to the[Vietnam War]and such universal themes that connect everyone, it was a privilege,” said Dustin Nguyen, who is Tar, the conflicted prisoner, plays. .

Nguyen was about the only actor on stage who didn’t shed a tear when he spoke about the work and importance of the film. Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, the 81-year-old actor from France who landed his first starring role in the film, wept as he acknowledged his wife’s support, with the help of an interpreter, as well as the second day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, wishing that everyone could live a life as blessed as his own.

Gabrielle Chan, who plays the driver’s divorcée, fought back tears as she said many her age are a lost generation, coming from war and lost relatives, before calling those with her on stage a family.

But perhaps the most touching moment came from Phi Vu, who plays a convict torn between following the group’s violent leader and embracing his own heritage and path. Vu told how he tried his best to convince his father-in-law, a shrimp fisherman in Louisiana, to take him offshore so he could understand the man’s life. The father-in-law eventually relented and said yes, but then Vu got a call back for the movie… while they were off the coast.

“I said to my father-in-law, ‘Hey, I have to go. My wife said, ‘You can’t leave him!’ I’m not trying to leave him!” V told.

Then, in a moment of tenderness, he took a confessing tone about what this movie meant. “I’ve really come a long way to recover from a lack of love, and I think I’m still looking for it. And I think this is my first step,” he said, bursting into tears.

Director Lee also spoke about his methodical style of directing and his specific demands on composition, his close relationship with his director of photography, the 21-day shoot and the challenges of shooting at night.

“The challenges we faced were a lack of time,” he said. “The sun rises or the sun sets.”

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