Tag: Ysa Le

Going Against The Grain: Ysa Le

Ysa Le

ATG loves passionate people like Ysa Le, whose commitment  has supported so many artists in our community. Everyone who meets Ysa will know she has a bubbly, upbeat personality, always willing to land a hand and give words of encouragement.

Ysa began her involvement with arts activism in 2000 when she volunteered for the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA), a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. She served as Board President from 2004-2008 and is currently Executive Director. She has produced and co-produced many events and co-founded the biennial Vietnamese International Film Festival (ViFF).  She recently developed the smART Program, which provides free art workshops to non-profit youth organizations in the Orange County and Los Angeles areas.

In 2005, Ysa was chosen by the Orange County Register as one of the “30 Vietnamese Americans to Watch” in celebrating  the 30th anniversary  of the Vietnamese American community in the United States.

Ysa is a graduate from the University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy and currently works as a pharmacist.

Full Name:

Ysa Le


Saigon, Vietnam

Current City:

Fountain Valley, CA



What does it mean to you to  “Go Against The Grain?”

Unconventional – swimming against the current –  but it needs to be done in order to reach the other shore. Art has always been viewed a secondary in the Vietnamese community.

What made you decide to lead Asian American non-profit for the arts?

I believe art can build the community.  It brings people together by creating understanding among people of different background and age groups.  And I love artists’ energy, passion and creativity.  Their work enriches my life.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

Specifically as a Vietnamese American, I think in the aftermath of the War, the portrayal of Vietnam and Vietnamese people has been narrowed to “the war” by the mainstream media.  Many of the artwork created by the mainstream artists would only focus on their own stories, leaving the Vietnamese people in the background with no voices of their own.  All this would create un urge for community art organizers to present a diversity of stories from our own experience.  Our diversity, in turn, would enrich the American experience and history.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

I think my biggest accomplishment so far is to introduce new artists to the Vietnamese communities as well as others through different projects by the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA).

What’s up next?

The fifth biennial Vietnamese International Film Festival (ViFF), which will take place from April 7-10 & 14-17, 2011 at University of California, Irvine (UCI), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Bowers Museum, Santa Ana.  ViFF will showcase over 50 films made by filmmakers of Vietnamese descent from all over the world.

For more information, visit VAALA and ViFF.

"Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam" World Premiere at VIFF

After four long years, we are so happy to announce that “Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam” is finished and will world premiere at the Vietnamese International Film Festival at 7:30pm Friday, April 3rd at the beautiful Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA. There will be a Q&A and reception afterwards.  We hope that you can make it if you’re in the neighborhood. Tickets are available for $8 at the VIFF website!

Below is an article from The Orange County Register promoting the festival:


Vietnamese film festival returns to O.C.

More than 60 movies from seven countries on tap April 2-5 and 9-12.

The Orange County Register
The fourth Vietnamese International Film Festival gets under way Thursday with a movie about a war-torn family that finds redemption through rugby.
“Footy Legends,” a Vietnamese Australian movie directed by Khoa Do and starring Anh Do, will screen at Edwards University 6 in Irvine and kick off the biennial film festival, which runs April 2-5 and 9-12 in Irvine and Los Angeles.
More than 60 films are scheduled for the growing fest, called “ViFF” by organizers and participants. This year’s theme is “Into View,” and the emerging and established filmmakers in the program hail from seven different countries.
“It’s a very broad theme, actually,” said Ysa Le, co-director of the film fest, which started in October 2003. “We were hoping we’d get films to engage the audience. Indeed, the films will bring out a lot of issues. A lot of the films are documentaries this year.”
After opening night, most screenings will take place at UC Irvine and UCLA. For the first time, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana will serve as a ViFF venue, hosting a free high school day on April 3 and a free senior citizens day on April 10.
Other highlights include: the world premiere April 3 of “Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam” at the Bowers, with some adoptees present; the world premiere April 4 of “Sad Fish,” directed by Le-Van Kiet (“Dust of Life”) and starring Orange County resident Kieu Chinh (“The Joy Luck Club,” “Journey From the Fall”) and Long Nguyen (also from “Journey From the Fall”).
On April 11, ViFF will present a Spotlight Award to actor and former Orange County resident Dustin Nguyen, best known for playing Officer Harry Ioki in the TV series “21 Jump Street.” Recently, Nguyen played a villain in “The Rebel,” the opening film of the 2007 Vietnamese International Film Festival. Following the award ceremony, ViFF will screen 2005’s “Little Fish,” starring Nguyen, Cate Blanchett, Sam Neil and Hugo Weaving.
“All About Dad,” written and directed by Mark Tran, will close the festival on April 12.
This year, there will be four free panel discussions: “Crossing Boundaries: Female Filmmakers and Questions of Genre and Gender” on April 5; “Combating Human Trafficking: How Can You Help?” on April 5; “Rebuilding the Community Post-Katrina” on April 11; and “Reel to Real: International Networks” on April 12.
ViFF is presented by two nonprofit organizations – the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association and UCLA’s Vietnamese Language and Culture. The festival has become one of the nation’s largest gatherings for Vietnamese cinema, a launching pad for aspiring filmmakers, as well as a popular social event for local Vietnamese Americans.
Film is “a way to share the stories with a lot of people,” Le said. “Nowadays, technology is very effective. One of the best ways to tell our story is through this art.”
About 4,000 people attended the festival in 2007, and organizers are hoping to match or exceed that number this year. Tickets are $8 general, $6 for seniors and students. Special events cost more.
For more information, call 714-893-6145 or visit www.VietFilmFest.com.