Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Actress Hồng Ánh will release her debut feature film as a director next year. She showcased a seven-minute teaser to audience at the Hà Nội International Film Festival on Friday.
The Way Station is adapted from Đỗ Phước Tiến’s story titled Đảo Của Dân Ngụ Cư (The Island of Aliens) written in 1992. It was translated into French and English. Famed writer Nguyễn Quang Lập wrote the movie script in 1996.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Phước, a restaurant chef’s assistant, who portrays the desperation of the characters in their search for happiness. The other characters include a Chinese-Vietnamese businessman and his daughter, an Indian-Vietnamese businessman and a Khmer from the south of Việt Nam.
It takes place in a restaurant called White Night, which is almost a character in itself, observing everyone inside including the owner, and their old-fashioned arbitrary way of thinking.
The film takes the audience through the lives of people from from around the country who gather in a little village by the sea. It depicts the confusion and uncertainty of their journeys to find happiness and meaning.
Ánh said she read the script some 10 years ago when director Nguyễn Thanh Vân wanted her to take the leading female role, but the project did not pan out. “I am haunted by the loneliness of the characters and their dreams of freedom,” director Ánh said to the audience on Friday.
“I have a special love for old houses, old windows, old streets and rustic people. Those things seem to disappear in the đổi mới (renewal) period in Việt Nam.
“I saw the loneliness and anarchy in the spiritual lives of the characters, which make them more selfish and confined in their own little individual islands. My characters often constrain themselves to the rules they create,” Ánh said.
“They are isolated because of jealously and obsession to control others’ happiness. All the surpression and frustration are completely contradictory to the simple dream of being free.”
Ánh used a lot of contrasts: long takes and repeated, fixed wide shots; silence and slow rhythm and the agitation of the innerself; busy surroundings and inner peace, the sound of noisy life and the melody of old love songs; and the endless sea and airless house.
The movie was shot by veteran cameraman Lý Thái Dũng in Hội An township in the central province of Quảng Nam and the central city of Huế.
Director Nguyễn Thanh Vân said the beautiful settings will "create good effects for the film and win people’s hearts."
“Ánh selected the cast which is similar to my imagination,” said Vân. “I believe the film will achieve success at local and international film festivals.”
The cast comprises a combination of young talent and established actors and actresses. Ngọc Thanh Tâm, an emerging actress, will star as the female lead.
Being introduced to the silver screen for the first time as the male lead, singer-songwriter Phạm Hồng Phước will be the wow factor in the film. In a supporting role, Nhan Phúc Vinh promises to surprise the audience with his new image. Two Vietnamese veteran actors, Hoàng Phúc and Ngọc Hiệp, will also return to the cinema after a long break.
The movie is an arthouse film being produced by Ánh’s studio Blue Production and Live Media.
Ánh was trained to be a professional dancer at the Dance School of HCM City. She completed a BA in screenplay writing at the University of Theatre and Cinema.
She began her acting career in 1996 and has since won many prestigious local and international awards. — VNS