10 years ago, “Vua Bai Rac” (The King of Landfills) by director Do Minh Tuan became the first Vietnamese movie competing for the Best Foreign Film category at the Oscar Awards.
After that, “Mua Len Trau” (The Buffalo Boy), “Ao Lua Ha Dong” (White Silk Dress), “Chuyen Cua Pao” (Pao’s Story), “Khat Vong Thang Long” (Thang Long Aspiration), “Dung Dot” (Don’t Burn) and “Mui Co Chay” (The Smell of Burning Grass) were sent to the US but none of them entered the second round.
However, the draft cinematographic development strategy to 2020 – 2030 of the Vietnam Cinematography Department stated: the target of the film industry to 2030 is to have world-class film talents, to win awards at prestigious international film festivals such Oscar, Cannes, Venice or Berlin…
This goal becomes impossible, utopian or not – in the view of scriptwriter Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat, depending on the “rising of talent.” However, nobody can answer the question “when the talent appears.”
“We cannot plan to win major international awards if we do not invest in people to encourage their creativity. But I am afraid that we don’t do much for this. We even face some hindrances, such as the censorship,” Director Phan Dang Di said.
Opportunities for young filmmakers (may include talents) is extremely rare. Each year, both state and private studios in Vietnam produce less than 20 movies so only several producers (mainly private) dare to give the opportunity to new faces. Calling for investment in this field is hard because films are the commodity with unstable output, i.e. the stage of censorship and distribution market is still fragile.
“Before setting big goals, we should try to set small goals: having at least 3-5 scripts that foreign investors are willing to invest in each year. I think it’s time we do not necessarily have the management agency but film support organizations,” proposed director Ha Son.
Vietnam does not have professional producers
In film crews, the film chair is also considered film producer although the two jobs are completely different.
Cinema schools in Vietnam do not train film producers. The goal of the film industry in the future is to change the film production process from taking the director as the center to film producers as the center in the international model. But to convert a process that has shaped for decades is not easy.
How to censor to stimulate creativity?
“The goal to win the Oscar Award, in my opinion, is a great plan that a few people cannot do. Firstly, we should restrict censorship. Censorship should be set in a country but how to stimulate creativity. The filmmakers want to go to the ends of the evil, the good. Because of the strict censorship over sensitive topics, filmmakers hardly think of making breakthrough topics while the world has looked far away from us,” said director Le Bao Trung.
Regarding funding, the majority of film studios in the world have banks behind but it is different in Vietnam. Seeking investors for private film projects in Vietnam is very hard while the state only funds films of state-owned film studios.
Vietnam needs training its cinema human resources abroad, namely the United States or to invite prestigious film schools in the world to cooperate with Vietnamese schools to take teachers, filmmakers to Vietnam.
Signals from young people
Short film “16:30” by Tran Dung Thanh Huy was selected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival 2013, “The Visitor” by Nguyen Le Hoang Viet entered the finale of the Asia – Europe Short Film Award 2012…
Before “Bi, Don’t Be Afraid!” won a prize of the Cannes Film Festival, director Phan Dang Di had been noted with many short films as “Sen” (Lotus) (screened at the Clermont – Ferrand short film festivals and “When I’m 20” (Venice Film Festival).
The short film “Monday, Wednesday, Friday” by Nguyen Hoang Diep, was selected to attend the Cannes Short Film Corner, and then Diep’s project “Wings in the Air” attended the World Studio category of the Cannes Film Festival 2013items.