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Culture Vulture (09-12-2015)

Update: December, 09/2015 - 09:24

Film director Dinh Tuan Vu's Cuoc Doi Cua Yen (The Life of Yen) has won big at the 19th Viet Nam Film Festival, which ended on December 6. The feature movie won in five categories, including Silver Lotus Award, best actress in a leading role, best music score, best cinematography, and best production design. The 26-year-old talked with An Vu about the awards and how young people make movies today.

Congratulations on your success! How do you feel about this triumph?

Each The Life of Yen was called out, I teared up. I am so happy for my co-workers, who have been given rewards worthy of their labour. Winning the precious silver lotus award, was a supreme joy. I think all of our efforts have been acknowledged!

Why did you choose to make the movie The Life of Yen? What attracted you to it?

The movie is staged in a northern village in Viet Nam in the middle of the 20th century, starting when Yen, a pretty little countrygirl, was married off when she was just 10. Since then, her life was attached to the ups and downs of her husband Hanh, who was one year younger than her, and his family.

The film also showed the silent sacrifice and incredible strength of Vietnamese women. However, deep in their heart they hide secret pains and have a burning desire to be loved.

The original script's name was Vang – Da (Gold – Stone) written by young screenwriter Ho Hai Quynh. This story is based on her grandmother's actual life, so it really moved me.

Young movie directors often make films on modern topics, with some featuring explicit and violent content to attract more viewers. You, on the other hand, choose to make movies that feature political commentary. What were the challenges when making this movie?

It was a big challenge for me. I was born in 1989, while this movie is set long before my birth. I studied books, novels, the Internet and people who lived in that period. But the most difficult thing is I had to put myself in other's shoes, those born fifty years ago to know how thought and reacted in every situation.

The context is another obstacle. It decides the "air" of a movie, which happened more than 50 years ago. We have travelled through many provinces from Hoa Binh to Ha Tinh to collect context. Our designer, artist Nguyen Dan Nam and his crew had to spend three months to work on every backdrop.

Can you share with us your thought on the actors?

They were very professional. They love this movie and studied the script carefully. They acted with true feeling. I want to send my most sincere gratitude to them. Actors Thuy Hang, who played Yen and Lam Tung, who played Hanh when they reached adolescence really impressed me. We had many arguments how to play each scene. Fortunately, we always ended up in agreement. The final result belongs to the audience.

In The Life of Yen, there are also many professional actors and those in their first film. It was not easy to co-ordinate them. But they were successful at the end and I highly appreciate their efforts.

For those who have not watched the movie yet, do you have anything to say to them?

The beauty of The Life of Yen lies in its simplicity and depth. Many scenes will remind audience of memories of their countries. The film making environment in Viet Nam today is ideal. Many studios are willing to invest generously in young directors. The rest depends on how hard you're willing to work.

Will you continue making movies in the same style? Can you share your plans for the new year?

Do not call it a style. I can only say my way of telling stories remains unchanged, simplicity and emotions. I'm still thinking about my next move. At some point, renewal is worth trying. But now, please let me keep the secret for myself. — VNS

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