Vietnam’s cinema in the limelight

by PV16 July 2015 Last updated at 16:00 PM

VTV.vn - The National Congress of the Vietnam Cinematography Association for the 2015-2020 period ended on July 14.

Although no answers were given regarding pressing issues in the field, the recent period was regarded as positive for the country’s feature films, mainly because of the lack of box office “disasters”.

From only 17 films produced in 2010 to more than 40 during 2015, there is no denying that in terms of raw output alone, Vietnam’s film industry could be described as flourishing. However, what ordinary filmgoers want to see and what constitutes artistically valuable film-making are two completely different matters.

Director Dang Nhat Minh, People’s Artist said: "I hope Vietnam concentrates on producing more well-executed and artistic films. We shouldn’t focus too much on entertainment such as how many billions we can earn. International audiences only care about the artistic values of the films, and that’s what we’re lacking."

Vietnam’s film industry is also changing structurally, with the increased involvement of the private sector, with 22 of 25 productions in 2014 alone belonging to private film studios.

Viet Van, Journalist, Lao Dong newspaper said: "The recent development suggests a flourishing film market. Even more noticeable is the increased participation of private studios and overseas Vietnamese directors in creating films that take millions of dollars in box office receipts. However, genre-wise they’re concentrated mainly on comedies and horror. Yet films produced by state-owned studios are often with drier and have more difficult storylines, so they face problems in attracting audiences."

If state-funded films like The Tale of a Thang Long Songstress, or Living with History were sought-after by private film distributors, private sector productions such as Floating Lives, or Blood Letter have blurred the lines between commercial and art films.

Dao Ba Son, People’s Artist, director said: "We’re on the right track. State-funded film line will continue to go in that direction, and probably produce more art films. They’ll be rewarded with their own box office receipts to continue investing in more film projects."

Dear Brother – a private film project funded by the state also recently received high praise at the Cannes Film Festival. So this form of relationship between state and private sectors may prove capable of increasing funding for films and also signals a new and more dynamic direction for Vietnam’s film industry.

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