Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Vietnamese: Bên trong vỏ kén vàng) is a 2023 Vietnamese-language drama film written and directed by Phạm Thiên Ân, in his feature directorial debut. It is a co-production between Vietnam, Singapore, France and Spain.
It had its world premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on 24 May 2023 and won the Caméra d’Or, which is awarded for the best first feature film. The film was released in Vietnam on 11 August 2023.
Thien must transport the body of his sister-in-law, who died in a motorcycle accident in Saigon, and her five-year-old son Dao, who survived the crash, to their countryside village. In rural Vietnam, spectres of his own youth, of his brother, who has left to rebuild his life elsewhere, and of the war also await him.
During the journey to find his brother and Dao’s father, Thien faced the past and reflected on life, faith and reason. The film also brought to the screen many beautiful scenes, the people of Saigon, as well as Vietnam.
- Lê Phong Vũ as Thiện
- Nguyễn Thịnh as Đạo
- Nguyễn Thị Trúc Quỳnh as Thảo
- Vũ Ngọc Mạnh as Trung
The film was produced by Van Thi Tran for JK Film (Vietnam) and Jeremy Chua for Potocol (Singapore), in coproduction with Deuxième Ligne Films (France), Zorba Production (Vietnam) and Fasten Films (Spain).
Pham Thien An’s 2019 Cannes short film entry, Stay Awake, Be Ready, which won the Illy Short Film Award in Director’s Fortnight section, inspired Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell.
Answering RFI Vietnamese radio, the “cocoon shell” is said by director Pham Thien An to be a metaphor or symbol for people trapped chasing after fame or fortune and to escape the “shell” requires some soul-searching revolving around the question of ‘What to live for’.
The film was selected to be screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 76th Cannes Film Festival, where it had its world premiere on 24 May 2023. It was also invited at the 28th Busan International Film Festival in ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’ section and will be screened in October 2023.
World sales are handled by Cercamon. The film was theatrically released in Vietnam by CJ CGV on 11 August 2023. Nour Films distributed the film in France on 20 September 2023, under the title L’Arbre aux papillons d’or.
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