Once Upon a Time is an archival film about childhood memory, dreams, and longings, all transformed through the magic of storytelling and experimental images. Juxtaposing the changing  landscapes of Sài Gòn, Vietnam through history and children storytelling, the film becomes a space of happening where (queer) storytelling re-enact and provide justice to the past as an effort to reinvent the collective memory and provide the comfort of home in the turbulence of history and reality.
In this quiet tale, a spell is cast in a quiet bedroom, and the turbulent history of Sài Gòn, Vietnam quickly weaves together to form a journey that trumps space and time, expressing itself through the digital mesh of Indochina travelogue, wartime footages, and modern Youtube travel video. As space reverts in time through the affective digital effects, the footage is juxtaposed with songs and images from a TV show called Ngày xửa ngày xưa (Once upon a Time), a popular theatre show that enacts story tales for children in the 2000s; figures of animated performers thus cast on top of the mutilated landscapes of history. Suddenly, a Buddha-figure shows up, consoling the broken-hearted, the war landscape footage quickens by and the room enclosed back to its original state.

Hân Phạm is an emerging Vietnamese filmmaker and artist from Saigon, Vietnam. Experimenting with filmic and sonic experience and their haptic time/space structure, she wishes to construct a collective healing space for minorities community through a storytelling tradition that is rooted in reimagination, conversations, and collaboration. Her works think through the ephemerality of memory, language, and history in relation to the constantly changing landscapes, rooting in the inbetweeness of distance as space for radical reflection. Hân has exhibited at Vancouver International Film Festival, DOXA Documentary Film Festival, and Vines Arts Festival. She is currently completing her BFA in Film at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC.

Shooting Format


Additional Details

Available Subtitle

Screening Formats

  • DCP,
  • Digital,


Provided By

  • Cineworks Independent Filmmakers Society is an Artist-Run Centre based in Vancouver, BC. Through equ


Small File Media Festival - 1st Choice Audience Award