Adobe Creativity Scholar Premieres Personal Film at TIFF
Carol Nguyen is set to showcase her latest documentary, “No Crying at the Dinner Table,” at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“Growing up not speaking the same language as fluently as your parents puts a strain on your relationship,” says filmmaker, Concordia University student, and first-generation Vietnamese Canadian Carol Nguyen. “At certain points, it’s easier to say nothing at all than to search for words and go through all the misunderstandings. This is what our family often resorted to.”
In the Nguyen family, saying “I love you” was considered taboo — showing love meant offering food or financial support. For Carol, a young girl “being raised in one culture and going out in another,” this dynamic led to frustration and discomfort.
Eventually, though, it came to a head when her parents confessed a long-held secret. At that moment, Carol was able to understand them on a more human level, versus their typical parent-child dynamic. And, in that moment, she realized her family dynamic wasn’t dysfunctional but, instead, the result of challenges surrounding assimilation as well as her parents’ own traumatic experiences.
“When your parents have come from war, have seen neighbors and family dead on the streets…from a culture where crying is considered weak,” Carol explains, “it is hard to justify your trauma and sadness.”
Bringing her family’s story to the screen
All of this — the emotion, the disconnect, the trauma, the love — became the foundation for Carol’s latest film “No Crying at the Dinner Table.” In this 15-minute documentary, Carol sought to understand her family’s story and open discussions around assimilation and the emotional gulf it can create in immigrant families.
Powerful and deeply riveting, this unique piece was accepted into the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a major accomplishment for an up-and-coming filmmaker and college student.
“The lessons I’ve learned throughout the years and my philosophy in film surfaced a lot throughout the making of ‘No Crying at the Dinner Table,’” Carol says. “I made big developments not only professionally, but with the people around me.”
That, she says, includes connecting with her family on a deeper level.
“It was on this set that my father told me he saw me as ‘grown’ for the first time because of how I lead my crew. After filming, my mother, sister, and I started making a conscious effort to say ‘I love you’ after the end of our calls,” Carol adds. “Getting to where I am now wasn’t a straight path. There were many beautiful memories, but also a lot of hardships.”
Supporting creators and propelling creativity for all
Adobe believes in creativity for all, and, in recognizing that everyone should have the opportunity to express their creativity, launched its Adobe Creativity Scholarship program in 2013. In the last six years, we’ve invested $6 million in the program. With this year’s incoming class, we’ve awarded more than 150 scholarships to students from 30 countries.
“Programs like these are so important not only for filmmakers but all artists,” Carol says of the Adobe Creativity Scholarship program. “We often forget that you have to be privileged to even pursue the arts. You need to have met a certain standard in your life to give yourself space and time to think about these stories.”
Carol was one of the 12 creators selected as a 2018 Adobe Creativity Scholar, receiving tuition support to attend Concordia and complete her film degree. Along with the scholarship, Adobe Creativity Scholars can apply for grants to support their creative projects, which Carol is a recipient of to fund “No Crying at the Dinner Table.”
Even with all of this and more, Carol says she can’t wait to see what comes next, including the impact her film could have on other families dealing with the same cultural and emotional hurdles once it premieres. More importantly, though, she’s looking ahead to continuing her work, pursuing her vision and creative passions, and working with organizations like Adobe that help drive greater equity in creative industries.
“The Adobe Creativity Scholarship program facilitates equity and allows more young people to pursue creative work because not all young people have this privilege,” Carol explains. “As an artist, you have to be able to afford materials, and as a filmmaker, you have to be able to afford the equipment. Not having that financial burden really helped me on the creative side to be more flexible.”
Tap into Carol’s #CreateYourStory experience via Instagram Stories. She’ll deep dive into editing takeaways of her film, cut in Premiere Pro, with co-editor Andres Solis on @AdobeStudents. Carol will also takeover @Adobe to share her TIFF experience, including behind-the-scenes access at her premiere. Don’t miss it.