Since President Ho Chi Minh signed a decree to establish the Vietnam cinematography sector in 1953, the sector has achieved significant results. The first milestone was the screening of the feature film “Chung mot dong song” (Sharing a river) in 1959, which was associated with the formation of the Vietnam Feature Film Studio. Since then a series of quality films were produced, including Vo chong A Phu (A Phu couple), Con chim vanh khuyen (The white eyes), Chi Tu Hau (Sister Tu Hau), Duong ve que me (Road back to mother), Vi tuyen 17-ngay va dem (17th parallel, days and nights), and Em be Ha Noi (Little girl of Hanoi). These films explored people’s emotions and the pain and destructive effects of wars. After Vietnam’s reunification in 1975, such movies as Canh dong hoang (Deserted field), Me vang nha (Mother’s out) and Bao gio cho den thang Muoi (When the 10th month comes) were considered everlasting works of Vietnam. Dang Nhat Minh’s film “When the 10th month comes” was listed by CNN in 2008 as one of the best 18 Asian films of all time. Director Minh recalls:“At that time, we were passionate about making films and our hearts were bound for the nation’s destiny. We did it for nothing, just patriotism. We wanted our films to have the best quality and reflect the most extreme of our emotions and the truest picture of our people’s lives and struggles”.
Vietnam’s renewal process which began in 1986 has seen success of many feature films including “Co gai tren song” (The girl on the river); Tuong ve huu (Retired general), Nga ba Dong Loc (Dong Loc T-junction) and Ha Noi 12 ngay dem (Hanoi in 12 days and nights). Significant documentaries during this period included Tro lai Ngu Thuy (Back to Ngu Thuy), Tieng vi cam o My Lai (The sound of the violin in My Lai), and Chi Nam Khung (Mrs. Nam).
After a decade of hiatus, in 2003 Director Le Hoang’s Gai Nhay (Bar girls) created a new trend of entertaining and commercial movies, as “Bar girls” topped the ticket box office with an audience in the hundreds of thousands.
Over the last 10 years, Vietnam’s cinematography has made major changes with the booming of private film companies and the involvement of overseas Vietnamese directors. Actress Hong Anh, who won several national film festival awards, told VOV: “Looking back at the 60 years of development of Vietnam’s cinematography, I am very happy and proud because my career has been connected to one quarter of that period. From my first award with the film “Doi cat” (Sand life), 16 years have passed. As a professional, I find that Vietnam’s film-making has changed visibly”.
From the first national film festival in 1979 to the latest 18th festival in Quang Ninh in early October, many works and artists have made a name for themselves. They have also provided opportunities for film makers to meet, and exchange professional skills to help develop the national film industry. Ngo Phuong Lan is Director of the Vietnam Cinematography Department: “Vietnamese cinematographers are proud of the 60-year development path of our revolutionary cinematography. The film industry has been side by side with the nation and generations of audiences. Being proud of the past, it’s more important that we should leave our mark in the international integration process”.
The recent 18th Vietnam Film Festival was impressive in terms of participant: 139 films from 44 movie agencies all over Vietnam.