New film 'The Third Wife' explores sexual politics, gender bias and personal freedom in 19th century Vietnam

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The new film The Third Wife, sexual politics, gender bias and personal freedom.

We can all relate to coming of age stories because they are, at their core, about finding one’s voice, preserving it, sharpening it and making it heard in a variety of meaningful ways. Defining our sense of self is never easy and is the result of choices we make actively and passively. We step into our future and we only understand as we look back through our past.

The Third Wife is precisely that. It's a film about a child thrown into a situation not of her own making and the causal consequences of her contextual self-discovery.

Set in 19th century Vietnam, May is 14 years old and is given away in an arranged marriage to become the third wife of a much older man. The film explores this journey towards personal freedom, even though the price may be high, as it might cost May her life. May is given away in an arranged marriage as payment for her father's debt. On her wedding day she becomes the third wife to her older husband, Hung. After the wedding night, May learns that she can only gain status by asserting herself, not just as a sexual being, but also as a woman who can and will give birth to a male child. May also learns how she can find her position between the other two wives and how to navigate the expectation placed on them by the family.

Ash Mayfair talks to Face2Face host David Peck talk about her new film The Third Wife sexual, historical and political context, choice and options, forced marriage and how the personal becomes universal.

About the Director: Ash Mayfair was born & grown up in Vietnam, she received an MFA in filmmaking from NYU. Ash's short films, The Silver ManSamHeart of a Doll,  GrasshoppersLupo, Walking the Dead, and No Exit have been shown by numerous international film festivals.

The Third Wife is her first feature film. The screenplay won the Spike Lee Production Fund 2014 and was on the NYU Purple List 2015 for the best screenplays written by graduates. It also won the Grand Prix at Autumn Meeting Lab 2015 in Vietnam and the Best Award for a non-Hong Kong project at the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum 2016. In 2017, the project is also among the 10 films selected to be presented at IFP (Independent Filmmakers Project), New York 2017.

Image Copyright: Mayfair Pictures and Ash Mayfair. Used with permission.

For more information about David Peck’s podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.

With thanks to producer Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.

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