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“The Third Wife” wins Toronto International Film Festival award

The debut feature by Nguyen Phuong Anh (a.k.a. Ash Mayfair) – a writer-director based in New York and Vietnam – The Third Wife, won the NETPAC award at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018.

The award is presented to the best Asian feature film by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC).

The Third Wife is about the struggle of 14-year-old May who enters into an arranged marriage with a much older man
in late 19th-century rural Vietnam. Photo:

Set in late-19th century rural Vietnam, The Third Wife is the story of 14-year-old May (played by actress Nguyen Phuong Tra My) who struggles with family politics, her own agency, and the prospect of motherhood after she becomes the third wife of a wealthy landowner.

The 96-minute feature stars renowned Vietnamese female actresses like Nhu Quynh, Tran Nu Yen Khe, Maya, Tra My and Lam Thanh My.

“Ash Mayfair’s debut feature The Third Wife signalled the emergence of a young female director-writer whose aesthetic sensibilities, cinematic language, and extraordinary ability to illuminate the past for contemporary audiences augur well for the future of Vietnamese and world cinema,” remarked the jury.

Before winning the NETPAC award, the film received the Best Art Film Project prize at the Gap Go Mua Thu 2015 (Autumn Meeting) forum for independent film producers, the Non-Hong Kong Project Award at the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum, White Light Post-Production Award as well as an award from the Jerome Foundation in New York.

The Third Wife will compete in the New Directors category at the Saint Sebastien International Film Festival to be held in Spain on September 21-29, and will be Asian premiere at the A Window on Asian Cinema programme at the Busan International Film Festival that will be held on October 4-13.

Ash Mayfair was born in Vietnam and educated in the UK and the US, receiving a Master of Fine Arts in film-making from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Her short films include The Silver Man, Sam, Heart of a Doll, Grasshopper, and Lupo. The Third Wife is her debut feature film.