Meet the SFU Public Square Team: Hân Phạm

Fri, 06 Nov 2020

Chloe Sjuberg
Communications Coordinator, SFU Public Square

Meet Hân Phạm, who has joined our team as a work-study Program Assistant! Hân is an emerging filmmaker, artist, videographer and curator, having collaborated and screened works with festivals and organizations such as DOXA, VIFF, Festival of Recorded Movement, and SFU Galleries. Hân comes from Saigon, Vietnam, and is completing her BFA in Film at SFU. With a passion for visual storytelling, she hopes to ignite conversations through artistic engagement with communities for meaningful changes. Get to know Hân in this interview!

Chloe: What made you want to do a work-study term at SFU Public Square?

Hân: What interested me the most about SFU Public Square was the aspect of public engagement and working with community organizations. I’ve always wanted to get more involved, learn how to facilitate conversations in the community, and learn more about issues happening in the city – and those issues are so integral to SFU Public Square’s work. Before this, I was working with a radio station, so there was that aspect of engaging with the public and having conversations with people there too. It’s very practical work and I like the back-and-forth that happens between SFU Public Square and the community.

C: What are you most excited to get to work on at SFU Public Square? What do you hope to learn?

H: I’ll be making videos for SFU Public Square, so I’m excited to practice making short-form content, engaging with moving images on social media and implementing new ideas on those platforms. There’s been such a surge in using videos on social media and there’s so much potential there. Coming from a more traditional film background, I don’t have as much experience in making short-form videos, so I want to push myself to learn new software and techniques, and see what works and what doesn’t. So now, for instance, I’m learning to use graphics and typography in moving images using After Effects. It’s a journey learning these programs! I’ve always known a little, but now that I’m using them more, I’m seeing that I can actually do a lot of things with them.

C: How did you get into filmmaking? What kind of films are you interested in making?

H: I grew up in Vietnam, where film and other technology seemed very far-fetched, and I never got to interact with them – I didn’t have a camera or a smartphone before I came to Canada. Instead of making films, we’d work together to make performances, plays, even a drag show. So I’ve always been drawn to that experience of working with a team, building community and making art. Now, because film is more accessible here, it’s become an option for me, whereas before I was more into the performance aspect.

Right now, my practice mostly involves making experimental and documentary films. I was planning to make a narrative film earlier this year, but we had to cancel the entire shoot when the pandemic hit.

C: How else has the pandemic changed your experience as a filmmaker?

H: I think that after the pandemic, everything we think about filmmaking and art-making will change. People will either try to stay within traditional modes of filmmaking or completely deviate from them. There’s a lot of collective and personal decision-making to do. Standing at this intersection, I don’t know what I’ll do next in the future – but I want things to become safer so I can finally make a narrative film and have that under my belt!

C: How do you think video and the arts can support community engagement?

H: I think the most important thing is that they create empathy. Arts and film can deliver a message in a way that’s more empathetic to people, so they can understand the issues at hand, relate them to their own life, and actually care about the issues and do something about them. The arts are great for bringing people together. Video does have its own challenges, though, because it can lack that in-person aspect, so it can be hard to make your work pop out of the pool of content and get people to care about it.

C: Tell us about some of the film festivals you've worked with! What were some of the highlights?

H: I had a short film in DOXA this year called To: You, To Night. I made it during my third year of my BFA in Film at SFU. It’s an experimental documentary about the Vietnamese experience, and the gentrifying landscape in Vancouver. It’s a landscape-based, sensorial sort of movie. I also worked with the Festival of Recorded Movement this year as an artistic committee jury member, so I got to watch a lot of films and read all the applications. It was a great team and it’s really cool to be working with them.

C: What are some of the things you're doing these days outside of work, school and filmmaking?

H: I’m reading a bunch of books right now – I’m the kind of person who reads 100 pages of a book then moves on to another one. I’m reading Beloved by Toni Morrison, a couple of Vietnamese books from before 1945, and Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. I had been on a waitlist of, like, 200 people at the library for Do Not Say We Have Nothing and finally got it! I’ve also been watching a lot of Korean variety shows, listening to Korean indie bands, crocheting blankets and cooking a lot.

We’re so excited to have Hân with us. Join us in welcoming her, and watch for her video work on our channels!