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The Betel Tree by Jakeb Anhvu

THE BETEL TREE (short documentary)

The front door is the gateway to the home. Its physical form represents where we belong, but home is also expressed through storytelling, memories, games and imagery from childhood. Anh and Mang reflect on betel chewing, teeth lacquering and their displaced past while creating future memories for their grandchild, Tran.


In 1954, Viet Nam was divided into two countries. The north was under a Communist government while the south was under a democratic government. Many migrated south while a few moved north. The exodus was assisted by many nations including the US, France and Poland.

Anh and Mang left their village and settled in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). The South changed dramatically with the introduction of northern customs in food, art and traditions. Of these, the art of betel chewing and lacquering one’s teeth black. Teeth lacquering has ended since the end of French rule in 1954, but the past is still recorded in some elderly Vietnamese women who still have jet black teeth. Anh and Mang live with their grandchild Tran. We are invited into their homes where we hear stories from their past.



Film Information:

Title: The Betel Tree

Vietnamese Title: Cây Cau

Length: 16 mins 51 secs

Released: 2005

Director: Jakeb Anhvu 


Producers: Steve Thomas & Marsha Emerman

© University of Melbourne - Victorian College of The Arts (VCA)

Writers: Jakeb Anhvu & David Cooley

Filming Location: Saigon, Southern Vietnam



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