Ash Mayfair

Vietnam, 2018 / 94 min / Vietnamese OV with English or French subtitles (VN OV with EN or FR subt.) / Drama

A melancholic story of female subjugation in 19th-century Vietnam.

In the late 19th century in rural Vietnam, fourteen-year-old May is given away in an arranged marriage, becoming the third wife of a wealthy older landowner. May soon learns that she can only gain status and security by asserting herself as a woman and giving birth to a male child. Her hope to change her status turns into a real and tantalising possibility when she gets pregnant. However, her path is fraught with danger when May starts to develop an attraction for Xuan, the second wife. As May observes the unfolding tragedy of forbidden love and its devastating consequences, she must make a choice, to either carry on in silence and safety, or forge a way towards personal freedom. The options available to her are few and far between.

“Set in late-19th century Vietnam, this jewel-like debut feature from writer-director Ash Mayfair is at once seductive and harrowing, transporting us to a time and place in which women are expected to stifle their longings while performing duties for the men who possess them.” Giovanna Fulvi, Toronto International Film Festival


Sun 10/03 21:00 Ciné Utopia VN OV with FR subt. Public
Mon 11/03 18:30 Cinémathèque VN OV with EN subt. Public
Thu 14/03 16:30 Ciné Utopia VN OV with FR subt. Public

“With its rich colours and immaculate production design, this film recalls classics like Raise the Red Lantern, but it has a melancholy beauty all its own. Writer-director Ash Mayfair, making her feature debut, shows a natural flair for drama—not to mention décor, design and visual detail. This is a delicate, tactful film, but its dark elements register no less powerfully for that; Mayfair may have a light touch, but she knows her target well, and she hits it bang-on. The oppressive sexism that May and her fellow wives suffer lives on today, in our own backyards as well as places we may think of as culturally remote. The filmmaker is addressing a perennial subject, but she makes it her own as only a true artist can.” Vancouver International Film Festival

“A finely detailed and quietly devastating tapestry... Mayfair’s sensory approach to illustrating an almost unbearable absence of female fulfillment achieves a powerful universal resonance.” John Berra, Screen Daily, 7.09.2018

“Gently dipping us into the long ago and far away past, Ash Mayfair’s directorial debut brings an intimate immediacy to the re-creation of rural Vietnam in the late 19th century. Though it’s almost painterly, in the pellucid watercolor palette of DP Chananun Chotrungroj’s glistening bamboo-green, aloe-scented imagery, and authentic to its period setting down to the quietest silken detail, by focusing with unwavering empathy on the interior life of teenage bride May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My), the remarkable The Third Wife feels newborn and ineffably modern."  Jessica Kiang, Variety, 4.10.2018

  • Best Artistic Contribution, Cairo International Film Festival, 2018 (Egypt)
  • Gold Hugo – New Director’s Competition, Chicago International Film Festival, 2018 (United States)
  • TVE Otra Mirada Award, San Sebastián International Film Festival, 2018 (Spain)
  • NETPAC Award, Toronto International Film Festival, 2018 (Canada)
  • Best Film, Kolkata International Film Festival, 2018 (India)
  • Special Jury Award, Minsk International Film Festival, 2018 (Belarus)
Cast & Credits
Trần Nữ Yên Khê, Mai Thu Hường, Nguyễn Phương Trà My, Nguyễn Như Quỳnh, Lê Vũ Long, Nguyễn Thành Tâm Lâm, Thanh Mỹ, Mai Cát Vi, Nguyễn Hồng Chương, Bùi Trung Anh
Ash Mayfair
Chananun Chotrungroj
Edouard Morin, Roman Dymny
Đỗ Trọng An
Tôn Thất An
Mayfair Pictures, Annam Production, Three Colors Productions

Ash Mayfair was born in Vietnam and educated in the UK and the US. She received a BA from Oxford University in English Literature, trained in theatre directing at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in and received an MFA in filmmaking at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. As a director of numerous plays and short films, she worked at the National Theatre in London and in off-Broadway productions as a director. Her shorts have been screened at many international festivals. Her first feature, The Third Wife (2018) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and its screenplay was a recipient of the Spike Lee Film Production Fund in 2014. Ash Mayfair is working on her second feature, tentatively titled Skin of Youth.

  • 2018 – The Third Wife
  • 2017 – No Exit (short)
  • 2016 – Lupo (short)
  • 2015 – Letter to Her (short)
  • 2015 – Walking the Dead (short)
  • 2012 – Grasshopper (short)
  • 2011 – Heart of a Doll (short)
  • 2011 - Sam (short)
  • 2011 – The Silver Man (short)
THE THIRD WIFE | Luxembourg City Film Festival


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