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Culture Vulture (03-09-2014)

Update: September, 03/2014 - 08:57

Viet Nam will hold a film festival in France every July. It is the result of the first Viet Nam Film Festival, which was organised in Saint Malo last July by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's Cinema Department in the framework of the Vietnamese Year in France.

Head of the department Ngo Phuong Lan spoke about the successful organisation of the first Viet Nam Film Festival and the annual film festival project in France.

How was the first Viet Nam Film Festival initiated?

It was fate. Last year, the cinema department and the Vietnamese embassy in Italy jointly organised a Viet Nam film week in Venice.

One of the guests at the week was a French businessman of Vietnamese origin. He said he wished to do something for Viet Nam. After listening to my introduction speech about Vietnamese cinema at the opening ceremony and talking to Italian people in the audience, he thought about organising a Viet Nam film festival in France.

He quietly prepared for the project in July 2013. In October, he informed me that he had found a company which would coordinate with the Vietnamese cinema department in carrying out the project.

In the beginning, we thought it would be a film week only, held occasionally to promote Vietnamese culture in the world.

We met Regine Petit, chairwoman of Iriscomm Communication and Entertainment Company [who is now chairwoman of Viet Nam Film Festival in France]. She is well known in communication circles in France. She and her group came to attend seminars on promoting tourism through films and film distribution and production co-operation development in the framework of the 18th Viet Nam National Film Festival.

What were the roles of the two sides?

The Vietnamese cinema department was responsible for designing the film programme, which also introduced films about Viet Nam by French and Vietnamese overseas directors.

These films included three master works produced in the early 1990s, namely Indochina, Lover and Dien Bien Phu, and two films Mui Du Du Xanh (The Scent of Green Papaya) and Mua He Chieu Thang Dung (The Vertical Ray of The Sun) by overseas Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Anh Hung.

The year 2014 is the 60th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu victory. We wanted to introduce two films about Dien Bien Phu made by French Pierre Schoendoerffer (1990) and Vietnamese Nguyen Thanh Van (2014).

The Vietnamese side sent a number of films to the French and nine films have been selected for the competition category. Festival chairwoman Regine Petit was in charge of inviting the jury members.

A Viet Nam Film Festival was being organised by the cinema department for the first time. Did you expect it to be successful?

Actually, when I saw the list of famous jury members, I wondered whether the organisers could invite them. The jury members include director Regis Wargnier who won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1992 for his film Dien Bien Phu, and other award-winning directors and actors.

When I first came to Paris for the film festival's preparation, I was surprised and proud because the banners and images of the festival were hanging in metros and in the streets. It was special because the festival was organised in Saint Malo only.

How did the Viet Nam Film Festival become an annual event in France?

It is due to the success of the first Viet Nam Film Festival held in France. The Saint Malo mayor, Saint Malo Palace chairman and Regine Petit suggested that the Viet Nam film festival should be organised every July.

It would be a good opportunity for Vietnamese filmmakers and for film production co-operation between the two countries. But it also will be a mission for us. We have to prepare for the next festival right after returning from Saint Malo.

All films need French subtitles. One of the most important things is that Vietnamese filmmakers should make many more good films. I think it will be an interesting challenge for Vietnamese filmmakers. — VNS

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