Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell

Directed by Pham Thien An
Year: 2023
Country: Vietnam
Language: Vietnamese w/ English Subtitles

Winner of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the prestigious André Bazin Prize from Cahiers du Cinema, both celebrating outstanding feature debuts, this enthralling work from Vietnamese filmmaker Pham Thien An is a reverie on faith, loss, and nature expressed with uncommon invention and depth. 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.

“Critic’s Pick…an uncommonly strong feature debut... The film evokes most strongly the work of the Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, though Pham’s voice is entirely his own.”

“Transfixing...makes you feel as if you've been quietly transported to another world.”

“Astonishing...This is faith as cinematic form: in every shot, Pham compels us to dwell in the space just beyond what we see, or what we believe.”

“Critic’s Pick! A spellbinding tale of the soul’s unfathomable desire for the other-worldly. Pham has certainly found his own divine calling with filmmaking.”

“Exquisite… casts an unshakeable spell. Invites comparisons to such titans as Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tsai Ming-liang and even Theo Angelopoulos, without feeling derivative of any.”

“Truly astounding... A formally exquisite examination of loss, faith, family, and connection, it's the year’s first masterpiece, and a must-see for anyone interested in more than just blockbuster fare.” 

“Provocative, absorbing and mysterious. Defined by visual splendor and a complex questioning of faith.”

“Astounding… simply magnificent to behold...Bursting with discoveries that remind us of how simultaneously small and essential all of us are in the vastness of the world”

“Offers transcendental expression… [with] a magnetic power.”

“Extraordinary… stunning. A film so accomplished that it beggars belief this is a debut feature. Heralds a bold, accomplished new voice in Asian cinema, someone we are sure to encounter again on the biggest stages of the world.”

“Mesmerizing… an instant masterpiece. There’s a healthy dose of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a spoonful of Bi Gan, and even a few drops of Tsai Ming-liang.”

Nguyen Thi Truc Quynh
Le Phong Vu
Nguyen Thinh
Vu Ngoc Manh

Directed by Pham Thien An
Writer Pham Thien An