Hotly-tipped war epic premiere ends long wait

After a drawn out struggle to find a film distributor, the award-winning Vietnamese movie “Nhung nguoi viet huyen thoai” (The Legend Makers) will come to cinemas beginning January 10.
“The movie’s official screenings in cinemas across the country is the outcome of our best efforts. We have tried our best to introduce a quality movie to mass audiences,” said the movie’s director Bui Tuan Dung.

Despite winning the Golden Lotus Award for the Best Feature Film at the National Film Festival in October, the movie, which praises heroic soldiers who built petrol pipelines running from northern areas to southern battlefields during the war for national reunification, earlier faced many difficulties when it came to distribution.

Most cinema theatres in big cities opt for US blockbusters and movies produced by foreign companies to lure in audiences and earn profits. Last year, 17 Vietnamese movies were shown in cinemas, compared to more than 100 foreign films.

The director of The Legend Makers, Dung, also expressed his concern about the film distribution system at the movie’s premiere. “The producers of my film did not find distributors or had a plan for film distribution,” he said.

It seems to be an exception for a war-themed movie to receive so many great accolades.

While the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper praised the movie as “worth the expectation”, the The Thao&Van Hoa (Sports & Culture) daily ran a review headlined “The Legend Makers: Admiration for a War-themed Movie”.

Recognising the movie’s worth, the giant movie distributor BHD Co. Ltd has decided to become involved with the movie, a production of the Vietnam Feature Film Studio.

“By distributing the movie, we expect to widen the young people’s contemporary view of the war. We offer this spiritual gift for the movie’s producers and the crew, hoping it will encourage them to create more quality movies in the future,” a representative of the BHD said.

“To support the movie means supporting the Vietnamese cinema, and we will try our best to introduce the movie to the audiences.”

Not having any luck finding a distributor, the award-winning movie “Lac loi” (Lost) by veteran woman director Pham Nhue Giang has struggled to find a way to reach the audiences.

Sponsored mostly by international cinema development funds, including the France’s Fond Francophonie and the Swiss Vision Sud Est, the independent movie received the silver award at the 2013 Golden Kite Awards, which are referred to as “Vietnamese Oscars”.

The movie is about a love story triangle involving a rustic husband-and-wife village couple which makes their living by doing simple jobs in the city, and the wife’s lover, a dancer living in the city. Through the complicated relationship among these three people, the movie unveils the reality of modern society with many upside-down moral values. It also presents the conflicts between tradition and innovation, animosity and altruism.

“As the budget received from the sponsors was not enough, I also had to spend all my savings for the movie. However, to be able to bring the movie to the audiences, we need another budget of 250 million VND (about 12,000 USD) for distribution. It is a very special offer from the Galaxy Cinema,” director Giang said.

According to her, the distribution cost comes to around one-third of the movie’s total capital. In Viet Nam, the average distribution cost for a commercial film is about 1 billion VND (nearly 47,000 USD).

“It’s a cause for a big disappointment for every movie producer and director if we couldn’t introduce our ‘offspring’ to the public. It is not only a shameful waste of our labour, but will also result in preventing the spread of many meaningful messages that we presented through our movies,” Giang added.

While still searching for another sponsor, director Giang hopes she and her colleagues will get support from the Vietnamese cinema authorities in releasing their products.

“If this situation happens with every producer and director, who will dare take a risk and produce an art film? What will we have to show at our biennial Vietnam International Film Festival (ViFF)? It will be ridiculous if the ViFF was to become a playground for foreign movies only,” she said.-VNA

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