Vietnam Film Festival 2107 marks new changes to win audiences

15:58 | 27/11/2017 Film - Cinema

The Vietnam Film Festival 2017 kicked off in the central coastal city of Da Nang on November 25 with a a number of new changes as compared to the previous editions to offer a fresher festival to satisfy the local audience.

A view of the opening ceremony of the Vietnam Film Festival 2017 in Da Nang city on November 25 - Photo: VGP

Under the theme “Building a Modern and Humane Cinema Industry”, this year’s festival introduced 16 feature films, 26 documentaries, 17 scientific films and 18 animated films, which were produced and released over the past two years. The video films category is eliminated in this year’s event.

The best entry will be awarded with the Golden Lotus, followed by the Silver Lotus and the Special Jury Prize. The best director, scriptwriter, cameraman, and leading actors and actresses will also be honoured on the occasion.

The launching of ASEAN Film Award

The ASEAN Film Awards have been included for the first time at the 2017 festival as an initiative from the Vietnam Cinema Department with the support from the ASEAN Film Fund and ASEAN Secretariat.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Vuong Duy Bien stressed that the ASEAN Film Awards will highlight the identities and cultures of 10 ASEAN countries. He said the festival will also mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN this year.

Ngo Phuong Lan, Head of The Vietnam Cinema Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said that from 2017, ASEAN member nations will take turn to host the event annually. The event is designed to introduce the best movies in the region to the world and affirms the role of the cinema industry in strengthening friendship among the ASEAN community while providing a good opportunity to advertise Vietnamese high-quality films and its culture to neighbour countries.

Accordingly, 10 ASEAN nations selected one of their best cinematic works, which was released commercially between 2016 and 2017 in their home country, to compete for the awards. The best film will be awarded with US$ 3,000. There will be other sub awards honouring Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.

The launching of the ASEAN Film Awards has been enthusiastically applauded by ASEAN member countries as the awards marked the first step towards fully establishing the regional film industry.
The film Da Co Hoai Lang (Night Drumbeats Provoke Longing for an Absent Husband) by director Nguyen Quang Dung has been chosen to represent Vietnamese cinematography at the Awards.

Adapted from the drama of the same name by theatre director and playwright Thanh Hoang, the film highlights the country’s traditional culture and the nostalgia of The Overseas Vietnamese community.

However, by competing at for the ASEAN Film Awards, Da Co Hoai Lang is not eligible to compete at other category of the Vietnam Film Festival.

The acceptance for remake films

Another new feature of the 2017 Vietnam Film Festival is that films remade from foreign works (based on foreign films’ scripts) are accepted at the festival but won’t have a chance win the Best Film and Best Scriptwriter Awards.

Two remakes at the festival included ‘Ban Gai Toi La Sep’ (She's the Boss) by director Tran Ham, and ‘Sac Dep Ngan Can’ (200 Pounds Beauty) by director James Ngo, both were based on earlier scripts of the same name films from the Republic of Korea. The two films have been appreciated by Vietnamese cinema goers when they hit the big screen in 2017. As the remake of films has become a new trend in film production in Vietnam, the acceptance of remake films shows a more open-minded view from the organising board.

However, a few years ago, approximately 10 remake films were produced each year, but the number has increased to 50 over the recent years. The rising number of remade film has also pointed out the shortage for good scripts and scriptwriters.

Although remade films are now accepted at a professional event like the Vietnam Film Festival, film makers have said that the acceptance and response from the audience will be the most important factor when deciding whether the type of film will be temporary or further developed in Vietnam in the future.

The absence of State-run film studios at feature films category

The previous Vietnam Film Festival 2015 saw the dominance of private films; however, there were still films produced by State-run and military-run film studios, such as Thau Chin o Xiem (Ho Chi Minh in Siam), Cuoc Doi Cua Yen (Yen’s Life), and Toi Thay Hoa Vang Tren Co Xanh (Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass), all of which won prizes at the festival.

But for the first time in its 47-year history, 100% films competing in the feature films category of the 2017 Vietnam Film Festival were produced by private film studios.

Although there was no film produced by State-own film studios submitted this year, the organising board believed that through their films submitted to the festival, private film studios would change the opinion of the public, who has a set mind that their products are just films for commercial and contain entertainment factors to attract audience to the cinema.

Among the 16 films, ‘Em Chua 18’ (Jailbait), a film by director Le Thanh Son, earned record revenue of VND170 billion (US$7.48 million) after it was screened nationwide, making it the highest-grossing Vietnamese movie to date. Other films have also won big triumph at cinemas such as ‘Co Gai Den Tu Hom Qua’ (The Girl from Yesterday), ‘Bao Gio Co Yeu Nhau’ (When Will We Love), ‘Co Hau Gai’ (The Housemaid), and ‘Dao Cua Dan Ngu Cu’ (The Way Station).

Many of the 16 films were the premier of young directors, who brought their creativity, vitality, and a fresh approach to popular social issues into their works.

According to the Head of Vietnam Cinema Department Ngo Phuong Lan, films competing at the 2107 Film Festival were strictly and carefully assessed not only by judges but also the audiences.

The jury discussed and casted their votes through many rounds to conclude a list of 16 feature films. The festival viewers would appreciate the diverse topics of films at the festival, she stressed.

Theo Nhandan