One of the most shocking debut features I saw this year––in the sense that it was more accomplished than most other films of 2023––was that of Phạm Thiên Ân, whose Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell is an evocative, beautiful tale. Winner of the Camera d’Or at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, as well as a TIFF and NYFF selection, the film will now arrive in theaters on January 19 from Kino Lorber. Ahead of the release, the first U.S. trailer and poster have been released.

Here’s the synopsis: “The sudden death of his sister-in-law brings unexpected responsibilities to Thien (Le Phong Vu), who is reluctantly tasked with bringing his five-year-old nephew Dao to their countryside hometown. On the road, Thien is drawn into a search for his long-missing older brother, haunted and spurred forward by a series of sublime dreams that reignite suppressed memories, forbidden desires, and specters of his own youth. What began as a journey home becomes a pilgrimage marked by visual splendor and mystical overtones, a quest for understanding and certainty in a Vietnam that seems unable to provide any clear answers. As Thien battles with the existential question of what is worth living for, Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell interrogates the persistence and complexity of faith, not only in the spiritual but in the delicate beauty of earthly existence.”

“About the approach of using long takes and slow camera movements, it came from my own preference and cinematic feeling,” said the director, “On one hand, I liked to challenge myself; on the other hand, I realised that myself as well as the audience needed a certain amount of time to perceive the images and sound, in order to analyse these factors and memorise them to be able to travel deep into the character’s world. The slow and long camera movements created empty spaces for the audience to freely observe and wait, and it made them forget the presence of the camera, and therefore, the surprises came naturally in the frames, without any force.”

See the trailer and post below.

Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell opens on January 19.

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