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A Conversation With Thu-An Duong

I sat down with Thu-An Duong, 26, a French-Vietnamese video producer—who is currently in Paris, six hours ahead of me in Boston. She co-created for the project Origines TV, a web documentary that focuses on immigration stories and creates film content for the organization Sororasie, which is a space for Asian women and gender minority in France, where she was raised before moving around all over the world from the US to the UK for a few years for school and work. But Duong didn’t think she would end up pursuing film. 

Duong actually studied marketing in college. After graduating, she worked at a small nonprofit in Boston, and through her marketing job, she was instructed to take videos and photos to promote the organization. After she bought a camera and filmed her first video, Duong spent her first night editing until midnight for 9 hours straight. 

“The reason why I love post-production so much is because you see the final result,”

Duong says. “You’re the person to put all the pieces together and get the final say in what the video is going to look like. And that’s the reason why I started working in the video industry. We can convey emotions on a very deep level with someone you’ve never met. You may have nothing in common, but just through different ways of expressing yourself.”

Duong found out about Sororasie through Instagram, and she had already been following other accounts about Asian activism, but most of them were American—she had never seen any French ones before. “After the first wave of COVID that incited a lot of anti-Asian hate, Amanda [the founder of Sorarasie] decided to create this network on Instagram for Asian women and gender minorities in France,” Duong says. 

 “We want to represent a safe space for the Asian continent in its entirety”

“…from West to Central to East, because today when we think about Asian, we think about people who look like me, who are from East or Southeast Asia. There’s a lot of diversity within the Asian diaspora, and saying that we are just one type continues to box us into the stereotypes that are not representative of the entire continent. That’s what we try to do with [Sorarasie].”

 

Sororasie’s newest project is called Asidentités, where Duong also worked as a model as well as a video producer filming behind-the-scenes moments of the shoot. The concept brings together 150 Asian women and gender minority models of varying Asian ethnicities, sizes, and skin tones to illustrate the plurality of the Asian-French community. “We’re all feeling each other, even though we’ve never met each other before,” Duong says. “We all had different stories, experiences, and backgrounds—yet we could relate.”

 Duong’s job was to create video teasers to promote the event for photography exhibitions, as well as a 15-minute documentary of the shoot, taking all the interviews of the models and the photography team to tell the story behind the vision and how everyone related to Asidentités in different ways. With varying themes and photographers pulling together four photo shoots into one project, a lot of work was done over a 2-day period. “It was very tiring going around, especially when filming for 8 hours straight,” Duong says.

“But it was very empowering for me to do this too because I got close to all the people that were at the shoot and really captured the authenticity and message in a safe environment.” 

With all that immigrants and children of immigrants have to face on a daily basis, Duong really believes in the power that art has to make change. That is why she co-created the web-documentary Origines TV with Chiguecky Ndengila: “Through these small unique stories, we tell a bigger story, and we try to change the way people usually perceive what’s already in the bigger picture. I see film as a way to convey social justice.”

 Through her work with Origines TV and Sororasie, Duong is paving the way for Asian-French women and other gender minorities to express themselves on their own terms through art. She encourages young Asian filmmakers to go for it and tell their perspectives that are often pushed aside.

 

“Younger generations will maybe feel more legitimate to take those places,”

“…but the place that we’re starting to grasp, I’d say we need to go for it because there’s a huge need not only for more but for better representation of the diversity that lies within our diaspora. There is a need to put forward the celebration of different identities—racial or gender, bodies, characters who should be on and behind the screen more. Let’s break the boxes they want us to fit in. That’s what I’m most passionate about.” 

 

You can find Thu-An Duong on her personal Instagram (@thuandng) and at Sororasie (@sororasie) and for “Origines TV” (@origines.tv).



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With French-Vietnamese identities, Thu-An (@thuandng) was always motivated by her identity quest, whether it is through writing, video producing, content creation in general. She is the co-creator for Origines TV (@origines.tv), and the video producer for Sororasie (@sororasie), a network of solidarity for Asian women and gender minorities in France, and for Asidentités, an artistic project created by Sororasie. This photography-focused collaboration between photographers but also videographers puts the spotlight on Asian beauty standards and diversity, as well as solidarity. Their first exhibition is on June 13th, at the Festival Plurielles in Compiègne (France), a cinema festival putting the spotlight on Women and Inclusion in the cinema industry. 

She also created a web series and media called “Origines TV,” which explores immigration stories through testimonies from a worldwide diaspora living in France. She is the co-producer, filmmaker, and editor for each episode (@origines.tv on Youtube and Instagram). 

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