Paj Ntaub (The Rose Cloth) movie review

Monday, November 16, 2015

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Paj Ntaub has been long in the making, at least 5 years. Many people have asked me about its release date or has it been shelved. I have often posted on social media about my excitement about the movie. First of all, my childhood friend, Seng Yang is the director, producer, editor, writer, and many more. Second, my mom has a role in the movie. Third, the movie looks interesting. I'm Hmong and most people have never heard about us. I'm a movie fanatic and watch movies of all different languages and genres. A lot of friends have asked to watch a Hmong movie. Hmmm, there is none I would recommend. Plus my friends are non Hmong. I couldn't really show them many since most won't have subtitles. 

After Paj Ntaub released a trailer, I showed it to them and they were interested. English subtitles were included! The trailer is amazing.

Image taken from Kev

The title of the movie itself is significant because as a Hmong person, stories were created visually through embroidery called paj ntuab (litereally translate to rose cloth). Many Hmong families have paj ntuab in their household hanging on a wall.

I have been fortunate to be part of the movie premiere on Saturday, November 14, 2015. After posting it on social media, several people have waited for my movie review.

Paj Ntaub is about Doua Ly Xiong aka "X," (Steve Moua) a good looking guy with a great career. Everything is going well in his life but he is missing something. Women chase after him but he is in love with this nameless woman (Nancy Vang) who seems to exist only in his dreams. Soon his dreams starts turning into nightmares. His best friend, Tou (Gideon Xiong), has been by his side and helps him conclude about his dreams of reality.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Doua Ly Xiong aka "X." Why X? It is a nickname since many Americans do not know how to pronounce Asian names, plus X is the first letter of his last name, Xiong. The movie is narrated by X. He tells us about his dreams, about this woman he wants to be with. He is in love with her but have no idea who she is. Wanting his dreams to become longer and control it, his dreams start to become nightmares and haunts him. 

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Steve does a fabulous job as X. He portrayed emotions well and is the perfect person for the role. One of my favorite scene is when X calls his friends to hang out but ends up solo. Even though X is the perfect man, he is alone while everyone else is enjoying their lives.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Tou, X's best friend who has only confided in him about this nameless woman in his dreams. Once a naughty guy, he makes changes to his life. His mother (Geu Her, my mom) constantly bugs him about getting married because he is getting older. Honestly, Tou is my favorite character. Even though he is the underdog, deep inside him, he is truly a sweet, loving guy, a bit naive at times. The character Tou goes through several transformations. Gideon is awesome! The fact that he co-wrote the script with Seng also takes it a few notches.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment
Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

I do like their bromance. One of my favorite scene it the mountain scene when X tells Tou about the nameless woman who he is in love with. I think everyone has at least one person who they trust, even if that person does not believe you. You have enough faith and trust in them to confide in them.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Beautiful, angelic, nameless woman in X's dreams. Is she real or just a fantasy? Nancy is gorgeous and everything looks flawless on her. With just her presence alone, her beauty and poise speak for her unspoken scenes.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Big shout out goes to Seng for creating a wonderful movie. You can tell he put his heart and soul into this project. The cinematography is amazing. The use of the lighting and colors contrast well with X's reality and fantasy world. The editing is very professional and done well. During the pre-movie, there were behind the scenes. You hardly ever think of what goes on because you just see the final product. The visuals on the martial arts fight scenes are put together well. Well done on the choreography. Because I'm a big fan of martial arts movies, I cringe at poorly made martial arts fight scenes.

I like the use of paj ntaub and its reference in the movie, along with the shaman scenes. Those scenes were powerful and magical.

Hmonglish was spoken in the movie. In my opinion, it is how most of us Hmong Americans speak when we see other Hmong Americans. English subtitles are available. However, I do wish the subtitles had a darker outline so it would pop more for non speakers. My daughter and her friend went to watch the movie with me and they both do not know how to speak and understand Hmong. Both are half Hmong. Some of the subtitles were missing in a few scenes also. All that is minor and no problem for Hmong speakers. Despite that, the subtitles are easy to follow and the storyline should not be lost in translation.

Waiting to hear back more details for the public to view Paj Ntaub. Many Hmong and non Hmong friends of mine want to see the movie. You will not be disappointed. I proudly recommend to watch it. My daughter asked, when is Seng going to make another movie?


UNPO Secretary General Condemns Violence Against Hmong

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

UNPO Secretary General Marino Busdachin condemns in the statement below the recent violence against the Hmong people by the Lao and Vietnamese Military Forces, and urges the international community to speak out against this crackdown.

UNPO Secretary General Marino Busdachin condemns the recent violence perpetrated by the Lao and Vietnamese military forces against the Hmong people. Laos must end its violent campaign to cleanse the country of Hmong people on the basis of their ethnicity.

President Chong Lor Her of the Hmong Chao Fa reports that the Lao and Vietnamese military forces are cooperating in their violent efforts to decimate the Hmong people. On 25 and 26 September 2012, soldiers came from Moungcha and Xiangkhouang, firing heavy weapons in the Hmong-inhabited region of Phou Bia Mountain. The Hmong have been able to offer minimal and unsuccessful resistance to the powerful militaries of Laos and Vietnam.

As a result of the violent attacks, the Hmong have seen their food sources cut off and destroyed. The Congress of World Hmong People has expressed the need for humanitarian assistance to the region, particularly medicine, and is concerned about the continued safety and security of women, children and the elderly.

The UNPO condemns the actions of the Government of Vietnam in supplying the Lao military with both weapons and soldiers and demands an end to continued efforts on the part of the Government of Laos to cleanse northern Laos of its approximately 300,000 Hmong inhabitants.

UNPO Secretary General Marino Busdachin calls on the international community to respond to the severe violations of human rights and international law being perpetrated by the Lao and Vietnamese governments against the Hmong people.

For media queries please contact:

Maud Vanwalleghem | +32 251 314 59 |



Novelist weaves together Hmong cultural tale

Houa Lor has two novels to her credit. Her most recent book, “Tomorrow: Tag Kis,” explores Hmong family relationships and the traditional role of women in that culture.

A New Richmond author has opened a window into Hmong culture with her newest book.

Houa Lor borrows experiences and conversations from her past to create a novel filled with regret, anger, peace and finally love.

The novel, titled “Tomorrow: Tag Kis,” chronicles the history of a family ripped from their war-torn homeland of Thailand.

Settling in the U.S., the family establishes a new life and begins to grow as children are born. But as the main character’s mother eventually lies on her deathbed, secrets are revealed and lives are changed.

v On her deathbed, the woman confides to her daughter the history that forced her to marry a man she did not love and led her to refuse to ever accept his love.

While the book is a work of fiction, Lor said, much of the story rings true to Hmong culture and family relationships.

“I wrote this after my father-in-law died,” she said of the three-month process of finishing the book. “A lot of the dialogue comes from my own personal life. They are words and stories that I heard from my father-in-law.”

While the main character’s mother ultimately dies full of regrets, Lor said she hopes the novel inspires readers to live life to the fullest.

“She was a woman on her death bed regretting her whole life,” Lor explained. “She was never able to forgive or forget, and she passed on her depression and regret to her children.”

Lor said her father-in-law was a “big hearted man” who taught her the importance of not dwelling on the past.

“If you learn how to live your life today, you will have tomorrows,” she explained. “If you dwell too much in the past, your future slips away.”

Lor weaves Hmong spirituality throughout the book, including the belief that people can communicate with loved ones even if they’ve passed on to the next life.

The book also explores the tension between the traditional Hmong family structure and American cultural pressures.

“We come from a very male-dominated culture,” she explained. “But we were raised in America. It’s a real culture clash.”

Lor, who has lived in New Richmond since January, is married and has three children. She is currently working on her third book and hopes to some day break into the screenplay business.

“I’ve been writing most of my life,” Lor said. “It’s great that my work has been published.”

Lor said more and more Hmong women are venturing into the fields of art and literature, breaking free of the traditional roles that have dominated their culture.

“Women really didn’t have a voice or an opinion in the past,” she said. “But the newer generations are coming out and expressing those things.”

When she’s not writing books, Lor also works as a film critic for an online Hmong website in the Twin Cities, www.hmong She is also studying creative writing and business management.

Lor’s first book, a romance novel titled “Eclipse of the Heart,” along with her newest book are available for $10 at or by calling 1-800-788-7654.


Museum showcases community diversity, history

GREEN BAY — A new exhibit at the Neville Public Museum of Brown County explores the arrival of the Hmong people in Wisconsin and their history as a culture.

“Who are the Hmong?” will be shown at the museum until May 26. It tells the Hmong story in four parts: ancient culture, as United States allies during the Vietnam War, as refugees after the war and as friends and neighbors in Wisconsin, said Rolf Johnson, director of the museum.

“This is an incredibly important and powerful story, and not one that many people know,” Johnson said. “This is a different exhibit for us, with such a powerful story and the involvement of the actual community makes the exhibit very special.”

Many members of the Hmong Asian-American Community Center in Green Bay helped put the exhibit together, either through donations of time or the artifacts that comprise the exhibit, Johnson said. The museum is making an effort to showcase the community’s diversity better, he said, and the Hmong community and exhibit are part of that.

“We would not have been able to create something this rich without the help of the Hmong community,” Johnson said.

Mary Vong is the president of the Hmong Asian-American Community Center, and she said that the exhibit does a great job of explaining the Hmong people for the general public as well as new generations of Hmong.

“This exhibit lets our community and younger generation really know, ‘Who are the Hmong?’” she said. “It puts my family history and background in place.”

Many of the artifacts are accompanied by photographs of the items being used, which provides great context, Johnson said.

The exhibit cost about $25,000 to put together, he said

Traditional games, cookware, paodo — or story cloths — clothing and other items are on display. One of the most powerful pieces is a prosthetic leg made from the remaining aluminum of a bomb from the Vietnam War era, Johnson said — the bomb responsible for the horrific injury.
It’s a credit to the ingenuity of the Hmong people, he said.

The Hmong population has origins in Laos, Thailand and China, Vong said, but live all over the world now.

“We really applaud what the Hmong have done,” Johnson said. “They’ve assimilated (to the United States) so quickly. It’s an amazing story.”



Artist photographs Hmong-American experience

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A new photography exhibit in St. Paul showcases the Hmong-American experience through the eyes of someone who, as a child, often felt smothered by her Hmong culture.

Pao Her has been described as a pioneer in the world of contemporary photography. This spring, Her became the first Hmong artist to receive an MFA from the prestigious Yale photography program. But, for the most part, she keeps that distinction to herself.

"My parents had no idea what Yale was," she said. "I think a lot of Hmong families don't know what Yale is or what an Ivy League school is."

When Her set off for Yale University's New Haven, Conn., campus, she told her parents she was going to school in New York City. Unlike Yale, her parents had heard of New York and it just seemed easier for them to think that's where she was.

Pao Her is now back in the Twin Cities, with a newly minted master's degree and her first solo show, which is currently on display at The Gordon Parks Gallery at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.

The gallery's walls are covered with photos of Pao Her's family members -- a cousin cradling a stuffed toy, a sister decked out for Halloween, a nephew holding a toy machine gun.

"There really isn't a contemporary art culture in Hmong tradition, so what Pao is doing is pioneering."

- Wing Young Huie

"After a while, you become the sister who always has a camera," she remembered. " 'And when she takes a picture of you, try not to smile because she hates that.' My brother tells everybody that."

Pao Her, 30, is drawn to such all-American images of childhood -- perhaps, she said, because her own early years were nothing like those of her much younger relatives.

Her's mother and father were refugees from Laos. In 1986, when she was 4 years old, they made their way to St. Paul. As she was growing up, her parents did everything they could to shield her from American culture and strengthen her connection to her Hmong heritage.

"I remember being invited to my friend's birthday party, and my parents telling me I couldn't go because I was going to be the only Hmong kid there and I didn't speak really good English," she recalled. "I remember being so angry at my mom for not letting me go."

Instead she spent time at home, learning how to be a proper Hmong bride and how to wash dishes in a way that would please her future in-laws. But despite all her traditional training, she chose a non-traditional path.

Renowned photographer Wing Young Huie curated Her's show. He said what Her accomplished is remarkable.

"There really isn't a contemporary art culture in Hmong tradition, so what Pao is doing is pioneering," he said.

Hmong immigrants are well known for their tapestry and have made a place for themselves in the literary world, Huie noted. But photography remains a rarely celebrated medium.

"It takes a while for a new immigrant group to produce visual artists, because it's not a very practical occupation," he said.

In addition, Pao Her said, many traditional Hmong, like her parents, still view photography as a way to simply document birthday parties or New Year celebrations. Her fine art photos don't fit that mold.

"My mom, she'll say, 'That's not a photograph. Why aren't they smiling?' My parents will never fully understand, but they're really supportive," Her said.

Gallery goers stand squarely in front of Pao Her's work, taking in images of Hmong-American girls holding Caucasian-looking baby dolls and Hmong-American boys making forts from couch pillows.

"The work is about this second generation of kids that have very little knowledge of the Hmong culture," Her said.

These kids were raised with Little League and American television. Theirs is the lifestyle Her dreamed of when she was young. But today she's saddened by how little they know about their Hmong heritage.

It's that cultural push and pull that's at the heart of the photo exhibit.

"I am interested in that hybrid of a Hmong person in American society," said Her. "What do you have to give and what do you take? What do you gain and what do you lose?"

Her's 16-year-old sister Celina weaves her way through the gallery, smiling.

"I'm really happy that she chose to work outside of what your Hmong parents expect you to do," she said. "It's amazing. And I'm so happy for her. "

Pao Her may not like to talk herself up. Luckily her siblings are honored to do it for her.

Her's photography exhibit is on display through Oct. 5.