Last week, we had the pleasure of sitting down with author Kim Thúy and actress Karine Vanasse, as the duo discussed the story of RU and how their incredible friendship began.

RU is based on the real-life story of Kim Thúy, who left Vietnam with her family at 10 years old. Thuy was part of a wave of refugees who left Vietnam by sea following the end of the Vietnam War, sometimes referred to as “boat people”. 

Directed by Charles-Olivier Michaud, RU was adapted from Kim’s novel of the same name, and tells the story of Tinh, a young girl who leaves Vietnam with her family. After a perilous sea voyage, Tinh and her family adjust to their new life in Quebec, adapting to a new language, new culture, and new home. Karine stars in the film as Lisette, who sponsors Tinh and her family when they arrive in Quebec.

Visually stunning and incredibly cast, RU beautifully captures so many nuances of the immigrant experience. 

On the page and on screen, RU is a compelling, heartwrenching story. But behind the scenes, there is another beautiful story that is part of the fabric of RU—the friendship between Karine and Kim. 

Karine and Kim met when Karine was a patron at Kim’s restaurant, Ru de Nam. During our chat, the pair reminisced on their many late-night conversations, some in Kim’s restaurant, stretching long past closing time, and others in Kim’s small yellow car. 

It was Karine who gave Kim a notebook, encouraging her to write the story which would become RU.

It was an absolute joy to connect with Kim and Karine to hear more about the origins of their friendship and each of their roles in the creation of RU. Their appreciation for each other as artists and humans was palpable, and the warmth and energy between them was beautiful to witness. 

Watch some of our favourite clips from the interview below, as well as a selection of delightful photos from Kim and Karine’s time in Toronto.


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Photos by George Pimentel for Immina Films