About Zone 9

The story of Zone 9, the people who created it and the makers of this film.


A feature length documentary exploring the rise and fall of Zone 9, a pharmaceutical factory turned art district in Hanoi, Vietnam.



In early 2013, an abandoned pharmaceutical factory in central Hanoi was transformed into Zone 9 – a unique arts and entertainment complex. Zone 9 attracted a host of motley characters from around the world, all hoping to share their ideas and showcase their talents. The space kept growing until December when its water and power were abruptly cut off and eviction notices served, forcing 60 establishments to shut down or relocate. The old factory complex once again sits silently beside a neighboring funeral parlor.


The story focuses on the struggle Zone 9’s artists, residents and business owners endured while chasing after their dreams to freely express themselves and to bring art to their surroundings.


In eight months of brief wondrous existence, how had Zone 9 created a vibrant community for artists and cultural entrepreneurs? Why did the authorities shut it down in such haste? Above all, this documentary aims to share the creativity from Zone 9 by showcasing the talent it fostered.


Zone 9 came to fruition thanks to the creative (and daring) minds behind it. This eclectic mix of personalities is the backbone of our film. Here are some of the people interviewed in this film.

PHUONG – designer and founder of Palette Workshop.


DUC – writer, former radio broadcaster and owner of Tadioto bar.


HAI – architect and owner of Bar Betta.


MANH – artist and creator of M Studio.



This film began as a short piece on one artist who had a studio in Zone 9 but soon became much more than that. There was just so much going on in Zone 9 that needed to be filmed. The stories explored in this film encapsulate many of the issues that Vietnam has to face—lack of community space, LGBT issues, the desire for freedom of speech and expression, and the clash between generations.

After receiving initial funding from the Goethe Institut of Hanoi, director Thu Nguyen continued filming interviews with those involved with Zone 9 while weaving the footage into a feature length film.

The film is currently in the post-production phase.


Our collaborative team brings together several years of experience in film, art and storytelling.

Thu Nguyen

thu_profile1Coming back from 2 years of traveling extensively (New York City, Brazil, Jamaica to name a few), Nguyen  Anh Thu has a strong desire to make documentaries conveying social issues and problems people have to face in her home country. To her, documentary is a powerful media which has not been used to its full  potential to tell stories and spread social awareness in Vietnam.

Her first film “When we were 20” won the first prize for documentary in 2009 by the “We are filmmakers”  project and was screened at several universities in United States, including Yale, NYU and Princeton. Nguyen Anh Thu’s second short is about the influence of urbanization on a small village in Hanoi while her third film, which is now  under post-production, explores a reforestation and conservation project in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil.

Gabriel Hernandez

gabriel_profile2Gabriel Hernandez is a Hanoi expat and native New Yorker with a strong appreciation of documentary film, art and travel. To him Zone 9 was an important part of the development of the local arts scene in Vietnam and thus aims to showcase its contributions with this documentary. Gabriel’s entrepreneurial and artistic experience helps bring a broad range of knowledge and talent to the project.

Chuyen Thac Bui

chuyen_profile2Best known for his internationally awarded films Adrift and Living in Fear, Bui Thac Chuyen is one of the most talented and experienced filmmaker in Vietnam. He is also a very community oriented filmmaker who has spent the last 12 years helping The Centre for Assistance and Development of Movies (aka TPD) become a strong and  dynamic community fixture for young filmmakers in Hanoi.