The Viet Nam Cinema Association's Centre for Assistance and Development of Movie Talents has made its 2012 Golden Lotus Bud film awards to encourage young filmmakers and help them learn more professional filmmaking techniques. Established in 2009 with the funds from the Ford Foundation and support of the British Council and the Goethe Institute, four years of courses have been held. The centre's deputy director, Bui Thac Chuyen, spoke to Culture Vulture about the programme and the latest awards.
What are your impressions of the awards this year?
The project was launched to create an environment for young people to study filmmaking and enjoy film. The cinema industry needs three elements: audiences, works and artists. The Golden Lotus Bud awards are part of a project to seek audiences for the Vietnamese cinema industry. Because young filmmakers will not be motivated to make films without audiences.
When I saw this year's films, I was surprised. The young filmmakers are mature enough to make more documentaries. At the centre, the filmmakers learn to shoot documentaries without comment, focusing on letting the subjects speak.
How are amateur filmmakers trained by the centre to be more professional?
The documentary curriculum was based on an international filmmaking programme. The 100-page curriculum was edited by Le Dang Thuc, former director of the Cinema and Theatre College. Students work with popular equipment such as digital cameras and professional film editing software. After three years, the centre has trained a community of young filmmakers who have been supported to show off their strong points. Some of them are doing well in producing, shooting, directing and screenwriting. However, we lack teachers. Our team of teaching assistants is drawn from our best students.
Are young filmmakers eager to do good work?
Despite a lack of infrastructure and funding, they have passion and ideas. They are enthusiastic to discover a diversity of subjects. Take for example the documentary Who Are You? by Hoang Huyen My. The filmmakers dare speak in the voice of the homosexual because of the discrimination in society. Some other works have good subjects which touched the hearts of audiences. I hoped the young filmmakers could make good documentaries.
Will the project have an impact on the Vietnamese cinema industry?
In my generation, we didn't know about cinema when we graduated high school. But now, a personal camera is very popular as even a mobile phone can shoot a high-quality film.
We did an experiment at the Doan Thi Diem Junior High School. About 15 students produced seven short films. They experienced a growth in thinking and awareness. They can speak their individual voices with cinematic languages.
Media is language of the 21st century. Now many job applications are made by audio and visual presentations. So it is necessary to teach the young about filmmaking. People will have a different perspective through the camera. It helps them become more mature. If they don't become filmmakers, they will be more knowledgeable audiences.
What is the centre's plan to draw more youth into filmmaking?
After the Ford Foundation stopped in Viet Nam, we did not have a main sponsor. I'm ambitious to implement the project nationwide, but it has only been run in Ha Noi. So far, over 400 students have been trained. It is a very good basis to convince cultural and arts education leaders to bring filmmaking into schools. — VNS