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Veteran film director dies

Update: February, 29/2016 - 07:54

Touching: Film director Le Dan (left) and actor Saub Gerard together at the Son My relic site in the central province of Quang Ngai. — Photo

HCM CITY (VNS) — Veteran film director Le Dan died on Friday in HCM City, after falling unconscious nearly one month ago. He was one of Viet Nam's first film directors.

Dan lived his final days in a small house at Binh Duong Cemetery, due to his sons living abroad, saying he wanted to take care of his wife's grave at the cemetery.

His colleagues found him unconscious in his room and brought him to a hospital.

"I know that it is natural law, but I feel great regret because Viet Nam cinema lost a veteran film director," said artist Le Van Duy. Duy regarded director Dan as a true gentleman in the cinema industry because of his amiable attitude at the film studio.

Actor Huynh Anh Tuan, who acted in the movie Nhung La Thu Tu Son My (Letters From Son My) – the last movie directed by Dan, said he felt an emptiness when he was informed about Dan's death.

"Director Dan was a gentleman. He always kept his refined manner and attitude while speaking to other people, making them feel comfortable in their work," said Tuan.

Born in 1928 to a scholarly family in Tay Ninh Province, the director's real name was Le Huu Phuoc. He made actresses Tham Thuy Hang and Kieu Chinh popular before 1975, and later earned fame for Viet Trinh and Thanh Thuy.

In 1950, while studying law in France, his passion for film became inspired by the Cannes Film Festival. He later graduated from filmmaking at two famous film schools in Paris.

He worked as assistant director in French director Marcel Camus's film Mort en Fraude (Fraudulent Death and Fugitive) in Sai Gon and with American director Joseph L. Mankiewicz on The Quiet American in 1956.

He made his first movie, Hoi Chuong Chua Thien Mu (Bell Tone of Thien Mu Pagoda), in 1957. His works, including Con Meo Nhung (Black Cat), Pho Tuong (The Statue) and Xuong Rong Den (Black Cactus), won many awards and certificates at national film festivals, as well as from the Viet Nam Cinema Association.

However his final movie, The Letters from Son My, which he saw as the most important movie in his career, was unsuccessful. He made the movie in 2010, at the age of 82, to compete at the Cannes Film Festival.

The 87-minute feature follows American war veteran William Calley during a trip back to Viet Nam. Calley had participated in the infamous 1986 My Lai massacre during the American War in Quang Ngai Province's Son My Village.

Dan used his own money, about VND8 billion (USVND8,034,300,000), to make the movie. But it was not shown widely.

He had planned to screen the movie in provinces, with a view to spending money from ticket sales for victims of Agency Orange.

However, some television studios broadcast the movie, earning only some VND3 billion. This resulted in his going bankrupt, and he had to sell his house.

He was also the CEO of the UNESCO Cinema and Multimedia Centre in Viet Nam.

His funeral will be held today in Binh Duong cemetary. — VNS

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