Gran Torino connects Hmong Minnesotans with Hollywood


5 thoughts on “Gran Torino connects Hmong Minnesotans with Hollywood

  1. This is an interesting article and is revealing about some of the learning curves behind the scene (no pund intended). Thanks Lisa, for the interview.

    I consider myself a young Hmong American, but don’t ask my wife that;). Some of the gaps that Dyane Hang Garvey brought up was true. But having been on the set and a part of GT, I had a very different point-of-view about the gaps she mentioned.

    First of all, this interview of Hang Garvey is really revealing of a self-promotional gloat and how she seems to have superior knowledge over all Hmongs. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for her and our people in being a part of a lagendary actor/director like Clint Eastwood and his movie, Gran Torino.

    I believe the real gap was in Hang Garvey’s lack of understanding her people. She seemed too busy trying to look the part, but was obviously clueless in her role. Like in any relationship, communication was key and she didn’t seem to allow anyone else to be voiced. In some of the frustrations that all the Hmong cast had during the shoot, a lot of basic cultural accruacy was overlooked. We soon realized that the “cultural consultant” really didn’t know what she was doing and had no idea to convey it. We just assumed it was “Hollywood.”

    I later learned that the scripts were kept untouched and true to it’s original score, because Clint had a bad experience in adjusting scripts with “Unforgiven.” The only thing was, Nick Schenk’s passion to communicate a culturally indifferent society overlooked some of basic accruacy of the a culture. It was evident from the beginning when names of characters were incorrectly used on different genders.

    However, I am very proud and happy for all who were a part the GT experience. Our peoples part in this movie was minimal, but the part this movie is to our people, was historical.

    Congrats to Clint, the crew, Ahney and Bee! Wish you all much luck.

  2. Why is the Hmong community so critical.

    We should be proud of all the people who particpated in this movie. It was a tough role to be in Dyane Hang Garvey’s shoes and not only that, all of the actors/actresses who were invovled.

    Lets take this time to reflect on how far the Hmong community has come and be greatful that this is the first time they placed Hmong people on the big screen.

    Peace and Happy New Year

  3. What’s the point of this article and gloating about this fake cultural consultant. What’s the point of having a cultural consultant when a white script writer who was not as knowledgeable as he claimed to be is getting his script unedited onto film. Why should the Hmong community be proud of being treated like set props and exotic cartoon characters in a Move.. “Walt I wish you were my father, Hmong men are too controlling..”haha or something to that extent..there’s nothing I’m proud about in this film but the continual lack of intellect of Hmong people in the community who accept to be treated as another ethic prop in a Hollywood film. Sure, keep leaving presents at your white neighbors doorsteps like servants.. makes me feel really proud.

  4. As another person who was close to the Minnesota connection to the Gran Torino film, I feel the need to defend Ms. Hang Garvey and her role in the film. It is true that she was given an instruction wherein the script was to be ultimately “left alone”, but she did in several small ways adjust many of the aspects of the film that were specific to the Hmong, including character names. And in several instances, she stood as an arbiter of disagreements over how the Hmong characters should be portrayed. Many of those disagreements were between older Hmong participants and the younger crowd. Ultimately the job of sorting out the truth was hers, and not the actors’.

    I think the ultimate issue here is a misunderstanding between what is the role of the “actor” and what is the role of the “consultant”. Also a disagreement over whether films that portray the Hmong need to be completely accurate, or should include perhaps true aspects of the Hmong in the United States that may not be common today but did happen in the decades since they came to America. A sort of ‘holistic’ view of the Hmong-American.

    Also you should know that part of Hang Garvey’s role was to bring to life aspects of the Hmong that ARE more pleasing to the eyes and ears of “Hollywood”. That might mean featuring a Hmong Shaman where such a person might not normally appear today, but would have appeared at some point since the Hmong came here. Or in another case the use of Hmong tools or props that may to young Hmong today appear out of place or anachronistic, but make for good story telling.

    Hang Garvey herself in interviews has openly said that the purpose of Gran Torino was never meant to be a documentary on the Hmong. Ultimately this is a movie about Clint Eastwood’s character, and everyone else is just there to support his story.

    Hang Garvey was hired to help Clint tell his story and in doing so keep him honest in reference to the Hmong, and as such she did her job very well.

  5. @Hmoobtagtag

    What pun were you alluding to?

    I don’t know what a film cultural consultant does but after reading your comments it seems Ms. Hang Garvey’s attempts to bridge the generational divide between the young and the elders are confirmned by your posting (and you even wrote this: Some of the gaps that Dyane Hang Garvey brought up was true.)

    I had trouble connecting “clueless about her role” and the “real gap” in Ms. Hang Garvey’s Hmong knowledge to the names and the script. You seem to know, so what was her role anyway? You suggest that that Ms. Hang Garvey had something to do with the Hmong names in the story. I’ve been following the stories about the Hmong and Gran Torino and I don’t recall Ms. Hang Garvey or the writer or Clint Eastwood connecting her to the script writing.

    Why would Hmong actors and crew want to change the script anyway? Clint Eastwood has said in his interviews that he doesn’t like making changes to his scripts–even you acknowledge this in your posting. You say that Ms. Hang Garvey didn’t listen to your inputs or the inputs of other Hmong on the set. It’s pretty clear that Cint Eastwood determines what he wants in his movie, not you or Ms. Hang Garvey.

    The Hmong revere their elders, at least this is what Gran Torino and what I’ve heard the Hmong people say about their traditional values. How is it that you, the young actors and young Hmong crew didn’t respect the elders on the set, which includes Ms. Hang Garvey? Like I’ve said earlier, I think your posting reveals that there is a cultural and generational gap between the young and the elders as Lisa’s article explains it so well.

    Thanks for sharing your side of the story with us.

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