Young director Bui Tuan Dung received his second Golden Lotus Award for a war-themed feature for Nhung Nguoi Viet Huyen Thoai (The Legend Makers) at the recent 18th National Film Festival. He got the first award at the 16th film festival for Ha Noi, Ha Noi. These noble prizes prove that Dung has successfully built a name for himself compared to other colleagues of his generation. He spoke to the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper.
Does the award put pressure on you for your future film projects?
Like anyone else who enters a film competition, I hoped to win a prize and felt happy to receive one.
However, I've never seen any award as pressure. Whenever I agree to do a movie, I feel completely comfortable with it.
Even though you were born during peacetime, you produced a wartime story. What made you believe the movie would be successful?
I was born into a family of soldiers. My parents and siblings are army officers. One of my elder brothers sacrificed his life in 1972. My family's friends are also soldiers. Whenever we get together, our talk usually focuses on army life and past battles.
I personally feel very interested in learning about the war, so I found no difficulties at all in embarking on this project.
What matters most in this situation is the message producers want to convey through the film.
So what are you saying through The Legend Makers?
I'd like to stress that when a nation is driven to an impasse, the most normal deeds that its people do – either in the battlefield or in daily life – can turn them into legends. In the movie, I wanted to depict different people, from a general and his soldiers to ordinary people, including children. No one wants a war, but when facing it, no one feels fear.
Were the scenes involving flame and explosions a burden on the film crew?
I haven't used TNT (trinitrotoluene) explosives for flames and explosions in any film since Duong Thu (The Couriers' Path) because it is too dangerous. I participated in a training course on special effects in war films, so this film is my first experiment using what I learnt from the course.
I used chemical explosives prepared on the spot. We detonate the leftovers straight away. I would only use TNT in some huge scene where no humans are present.
Generally speaking, the sound and image are completely satisfactory whilst danger is totally mitigated. During two months in the field, we did not encounter any hazard even though up to 80 per cent of the film contains explosions.
One more thing I'd like to say is that apart from the VND8.6 billion (US$410,000) from the State budget, I received an additional VND2.5 billion in financial support from other sources, which helped much with the production of such impressive scenes.
After winning the Golden Lotus, do you believe the film will win praise and high turnover?
Truly speaking, I'm very concerned about the film distribution. The Legend Makers is a war film but I tell the story of the war through my own perspective – as a simple story of human interest.
What I find most important is to bring emotions to the audience. I'm worried a bit, as I just said, but I also have my own belief. As a compelling narrative with humorous elements, I'm convinced that The Legend Makers will be warmly welcomed. — VNS