Screenwriter Nguyen Thi My Trang was one of three Talent Campus winners at the Ha Noi International Film Festival (HANIFF) in November.
She was awarded best screenplay for What's with Coffee Today and US$500. The Goethe Institute in Ha Noi funded her travel to the Berlin International Film Festival in February.
Culture Vulture interviewed Trang about her trip.
You represented young Vietnamese filmmakers when you attended the Berlin Film Festival. Could you talk about your trip?
Nguyen Thi Tham, Nguyen Trinh Thi and I took part in a programme where we exchanged and shared filmmaking experience. It was held under the framework of the film festival's Talent Campus for Southeast Asian emerging filmmakers.
The programme was designed flexibly to create opportunities for filmmakers and give us a chance to discover Berlin and the festival.
We met emerging filmmakers from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar. Most of them were documentary filmmakers and they are ambitious.
We saw movies, attended seminars on funding your film and did many other activities. Obviously, the most important thing to me was watching movies. I loved the Vietnamese movie Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories, directed by Phan Dang Di.
It was the first time a Vietnamese movie competed for the festival's official awards.
What is your impression of the Berlin Film Festival?
It is one of the biggest and the most prestigious film festivals in the world. Right after we landed, I was not impressed by the boring architecture and cold weather. Contrary to the weather, I saw enthusiastic Berliners and the festival's wonderful audiences.
The biggest impression was how professional the film festival was. The ticket distribution system was convenient.
Audiences respected the movies. They always asked good questions during question-and-answer sessions with movie crews.
There wasn't much hot news on red carpet fashion scandals in newspapers. Mass media focused on reviewing films and covering the awards.
What did you get out of the trip?
I have more experiences about people and lifestyle than landscape. Previously, I was impressed by Germany's discipline. During the trip their responsibility and enthusiasm were convincing to me. It made me more prompt. I ran fast to catch tramcars and spent a lot more time working than eating meals.
In my opinion, cinema doesn't come just from inspiration. It requires discipline, hours of hard working and sacrifice. Filmmakers have to work hard to be recognised. Red carpet, dressing up and parties are suitable for actors and celebrities, but not for filmmakers.
Did the trip inspire you to do more film work?
A 10-day trip is a short time, but it gave me a new and interesting outlook. Attending the Berlin Film Festival also gave me hope that someday I could send a film to the festival. It was good motivation for me.
Unlike the cold weather, German people are responsible and sentimental. I think there are good stories everywhere. Filmmaking is telling a story through images.
I will focus on my screenwriting. If my script is good I'll partner with someone to make it a film.
Filmmakers need be courageous and strong to protect their decisions. It is a common challenge for filmmakers.
At present, digital technology and social networks help people make movies with lower budgets. But it is also a challenge for filmmakers because video clips and music videos make viewers forget movies. — VNS