An uncle undertakes an odyssey across the physical and spiritual landscapes of Vietnam in order to reunite his nephew with the boy’s estranged father, in Phạm Thiên’s Camera d’Or–winning first feature.


Wavelengths, TIFF '23

Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell

Phạm Thiên Ân

Winner of this year’s Caméra d’Or at Cannes, Phạm Thiên An’s daring first feature, Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell, challenges visual and narrative norms as it follows the footsteps of a young man who must suddenly become caretaker to his nephew.

When a motorcycle accident snatches the life of his sister-in-law, Thiện (Lê Phong Vũ) discovers that his little nephew Đào (Nguyễn Thịnh) is left without a guardian. Đào’s father — Thiện’s brother Tam — vanished years before, so the uncle must take the boy under his wing as the next of kin. Hoping to reunite the estranged father and son, Thiện sets off on a journey that becomes as much a spiritual odyssey as a geographic one. He meets new and old acquaintances and grieves different kinds of separations — through death and other partings. As he continues his search, he ponders the bigger, affecting questions that stir inside him, and realizes his wanderings have become about more than just locating his missing brother.

Reflecting Thiện’s psyche in its visual representation and rhythm, Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell pushes the limits of conventional filmmaking. Deliberately avoiding stimulating drama or action, it may be a narratively demanding tale. But this lyrical work invites — and directs — the audience to experience the fluidity of time and space with its slow pace and long takes. The enticing scenery of rural Vietnam is peppered with unexpected stylistic and editing choices, which may jolt you from the tranquility created. The outcome is an experience that aligns the viewers’ own contemplations with that of Thiện’s.


Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

Content advisory: mature themes


Thu Sep 07

TIFF Bell Lightbox 5

Fri Sep 15

Scotiabank 7

Sat Sep 16

Scotiabank 9