Diva

Diva is a fan letter to Diva Cat Thy, a Vietnamese transwoman, street food vendor, and performer, who openly shares her life and struggles daily on social media. Trying to bridge distances of both geography and language, the French director uses found footage posted online by Diva and her community to get in touch with her. He has never met her, cannot travel to Vietnam due to COVID-19 restrictions, and relies on his boyfriend, an Australian of Vietnamese origins, who helps translate the footage and acts as an intermediary. In a conversation constructed through subtitles and surtitles, the film not only reveals the filmmaker’s adoration for Diva, but also his and his partner’s process of understanding and making meaning of Diva’s life as well as their own in relation to it. Diva’s life, on the streets of Saigon as a transitory street food vendor, online as a social media celebrity, and on stage as a bingo singer and circus performer, is interwoven with the processes of looking at (or watching) her and of translation, as well as with a reflection about queer identity, distance, intimacy, and incoherent histories. Diva is a fleeting moment in a woman’s life, one that promises to reach out to a wider queer and solidarity community, blurring the spheres of the online and the real.
by Nicolas Cilins
with Diva Cat Thy, Miss Tien Giang, Sim Let, Ngoc Huyen, Father Dragon, Hop Thu Thoai, Miss Tien’s Husband, Nhu Y, Mr Dat Tu, Mr Trung
Switzerland 2021 Vietnamese 29’ Colour World premiere

With

  • Diva Cat Thy
  • Miss Tien Giang
  • Sim Let
  • Ngoc Huyen
  • Father Dragon
  • Hop Thu Thoai
  • Miss Tien’s Husband
  • Nhu Y
  • Mr Dat Tu
  • Mr Trung

Crew

DirectorNicolas Cilins
EditingNicolas Cilins
TranslationDustin Duong
ProducerNicolas Cilins

Produced by

Apparatus

Nicolas Cilins

Nicolas Cilins is an artist living in Geneva, working across the disciplines of visual arts, filmmaking, and performance art. He has shown works in museums, theaters, and film festivals and won several awards including the Swiss Grand Award for Theatre (with Cie Yan Duyvendak, 2019) and Swiss Art Awards (2018). His work is in public collections including the Kunstmuseum Bern, FRAC Poitou-Charentes, FCAC & FMAC in Geneva, respectively the canton and city collections.

Filmography

2012 Moroccan Archaeologies; 11 min. 2013 Stalin’s World; 20 min. 2015 Gineva; 45 min. 2016 Bricofutur; 20 min. 2018 Marabout; 12 min. 2020 Karen; 25 min. · The Way We Walk; 20 min. 2021 Diva

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2022