|How it should be done: The 2002 Vietnamese film Vua Bai Rac (King of the Garbage Dump) won admiration from Vietnamese and foreign audiences for its style and values. It had its US premiere at the 2003 Palm Springs International Film Festival. — Photo phimdata.com
HA NOI (VNS)— Many film industry experts have expressed their doubts about the ambitious goals set in the newly–released Cinematographic Development Strategy, which has been written with a vision to 2030.
The detailed plan, written by Viet Nam's Cinematography Department, states that the nation's film industry should strive to lead Southeast Asian cinema by 2020 and become one of the most developed in Asia by 2030.
However, many filmmakers have been quick to brand the plan as utopian.
The strategy does attempt to outline the steps required to meet its lofty targets.
To improve the quality of films, it says investment will be made in the training of technical crew members, actors and directors.
It has also proposed that more importance be shifted to the role of producer, who will be increasingly responsible for developing the scripts, locating the funds, hiring directors, taking a leading role in casting and setting up the production and distribution schedule.
Currently in Viet Nam, the film directors hold most of these responsibilities and usually work on their own projects.
In a bid to create incentives and promote homegrown talents, the strategy has proposed that the makers of highly acclaimed Vietnamese films will be financially rewarded from a cinema development support fund, with the money going towards their future projects. Finances will be collected from the ticket revenues of domestic and foreign films (0.5 and 3.5 per cent respectively). The Government particularly wants to invest more in the production of films of humanitarian and political value, documentaries and films for children and ethnic groups.
The strategy has also set out goals to improve film distribution and presentation in Viet Nam. It has stated that the country needs to upgrade 49 of its cinema houses, build 52 new ones and develop two large modern cinema centres capable of hosting film festivals.
The success of the Hanoi International Film Festival last year has strongly influenced this directive. Director of the Cinematography Department Ngo Phuong Lan believes that last year's event was the first step taken in integrating the Vietnamese film industry with its regional and international counterparts. At the closing ceremony of the festival, she insisted that Vietnamese films improve to satisfy domestic audiences, who are often more attracted to foreign films that they find more interesting.
"It's clear that Vietnamese filmmakers should try their best to make better films in the future," she said, "so that at future film festivals, Viet Nam can be proud to present great films to its people and international guests."
To this end, the draft strategy says international co-operation should be bolstered to further introduce Vietnamese films to the wider world at regional and international film festivals.
Pie in the sky
According to scriptwriter Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat, permanent deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Cinema Association, seven years is not enough time for the country to improve its cinema industry to the levels suggested.
"To begin with, Viet Nam should set more realistic goals: occupy the domestic market, gain international prizes and then develop film exportation," she said.
Film director Bui Thac Chuyen took issue with the proposal to enhance the role of producer at the expense of the directors in filmmaking.
"If we adopt the suggested mode, we will have many commercial films, but artistic films will disappear. In advanced countries with famous film industries, like France, directors play the most important role in both artistic and commercial films"
Viet Nam's inability to adapt to digital technology is also expected to hold development back.
Next year, digital film will become the predominant choice of filmmakers around the world, while Viet Nam is remaining faithful to 35mm film.
Digital cinema refers to the use of digital technology to capture, distribute and project motion pictures instead of using film.
Until a few years ago, the ubiquity of 35mm movie projectors in commercial theatres made it the only format that could be played in most of the world's cinemas. However since 2008, the rapid conversion to digital projection has seen traditional film projectors replaced by digital ones in most projection booths.
"We should have more concrete action to help the domestic industry catch up with regional film industry", said Nguyen Danh Duong, director of the National Film Centre.
"We have targeted making digital films by 2020, but by then it could be too late." — VNS