Kukui Tower class inspires scholarship winner to pursue film-making career

Victor talks to actor Sunny Ly during shooting of the opening scene of Victor’s film, “The Loveliest Flower.”

Honolulu, Hawaii, May 15, 2017 – Victor Nhieu was 4 when he and his family moved to Hawaii. In Honolulu, Victor and his younger sister grew up in Kukui Tower, a 32-story EAH Housing community. Now 20, Victor is an EAH scholarship winner studying film production at Chapman University in Southern California.

When Victor was in 8th grade, he took an after-school class in filmmaking. That class, taught at Kukui Tower by instructors from The ARTS at Marks Garage, gave him hope that he might turn his love of movies into a career. “That inspired me to want to do more storytelling with film,” he said. “I grew up watching Disney a lot. I loved animation and I loved romantic films, the stories they tell about connections, about appreciating relationships with other people.”

Victor found Kukui Tower a welcoming place to grow up. “All the Mark’s Garage classes helped me get involved with the arts,” he said. “There was always something to keep the kids involved and bring us together. The kids living in the tower became friends.”

In high school, Victor’s hard work helped win him several student film awards, as well as an internship at the 2013 Hawaii International Film Festival. The following year, he was accepted to Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. He is the first member of his family to go to college.

As a sophomore, Victor received a $2,500 Rebecca W. Watkin Scholarship from EAH Housing. Last year, Victor completed his junior capstone project — “The Loveliest Flower” — an 11-minute film about a Vietnamese-American teen struggling to learn her grandmother’s native language.

“I connected with the story because I wished that I was closer to my grandmother. While making the film, written by my friend Tue Duong, I looked back in my life where I failed in my relationships with my grandmothers and brought that to the film,” said Victor.