Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Film distributors and cinema managers at localities must be proactive in promoting the screening of Vietnamese movies in the country, Ngô Phương Lan, head of the Cinematography Department, said at a seminar held recently in Hà Nội.
“The department has worked hard so that Vietnamese movies, which are State-commissioned, can be shown in the remote, mountainous and island areas but it cannot ensure the resources required to screen the movie are available,” Lan said at the Promoting Film Distribution at State-owned Cinemas System seminar.
“Almost all cinemas in the provinces and cities are not equipped with digital movie projectors to screen the latest movies from Việt Nam and the world.”
At present, there are three cinema systems in the country - State-owned cinemas, private cinemas and foreign joint venture cinemas.
Last year, 41 Vietnamese movies were produced against 199 foreign imported movies. Almost all the imported movies were distributed by non-State cinemas.
In recent years, the standard cinema system has mushroomed in the big cities. Some 450 halls out of 510 in total were equipped with digital projectors nationwide by the end of last year.
It meets the increasing demand of Vietnamese audiences who come to the cinema not just during big holidays.
The audiences last year increased 5 per cent compared with 2014, according to a statistic by the Department of Cinematography.
“This is a good sign for film distribution in big cities only,” Lan said. “the scenario in the provinces continues to be grim.”
Presentations made at the seminar by representatives from the local film distribution companies pointed out the difficulties in promoting film distribution in localities due to many reasons.
Deteriorated cinema halls and the lack of high technology equipment and film resources are the main obstacles for ineffective film distribution in localities, according to the presentations.
“Our cinemas are not qualified to screen blockbuster movies,” Vũ Quang Huy, director of Ninh Bình Film Distribution Company, said. “We have to hire the latest movies from the Vinacinema Company but it is always 1-2 months after the official launch of the movie.”
“A private cinema invests some dozens of billions of đồng, while a State-owned cinema receives VNĐ300 million-400 million (US$13,000-17,800) only,” Huy said.
The cinemas in the northern province of Lạng Sơn stopped showing movies since August 2013, because of the lack of new movies.
“We have asked for help many times,” Dương Văn Biên director of the Lạng Sơn Film Distribution Company, said. “At present, turnover from the film screening is not enough to cover costs, including labour costs. The main reasons are out-of-date equipment and poor film resources.”
From the central province of Hà Tĩnh, Nguyễn Trọng Chương, deputy-director of the Cinema and Culture Centre, reveals that film distribution in his province is much worse.
The province merged the Film Distribution Company and the Culture Centre into the Cinema and Culture Centre in 2012.
“Due to the merger, the financial source for film distribution was cut,” Chương said. “It resulted in poor equipment and no money to hire movies”.
The lack of necessary equipment is common not only in the provinces, but also in the cities. The Film Distribution Company in the northern city of Hải Phòng has three cinemas in the centre of the city. They, however, cannot compete with private cinemas due to poor equipment.
Participants at the seminar, however, saw some hope for the future, after hearing the experiences of the National Cinema Centre (NCC).
It is necessary to also have additional services to lure the audience besides just screening the movies at the cinema hall, according to the NCC representative.
“NCC has planned investment into one infrastructure requirement each year depending on our budget,” he said.
He also suggested that the cinema department have a preferential policy for provinces that already have digital projectors and can screen the latest movies at the same time as the private cinemas.
State-owned cinemas should get support from projector lending businesses to promote film distribution and screenings.
The seminar was attended not by only representatives from the cinema department and the provincial film distribution companies, but also by representatives from the equipment supplier companies and the Việt Nam Film Distribution Association.
“We have supplied 12 State-owned film distribution companies with digital projectors nationwide,” a representative from EV Entertainment, a film projector supplier in Việt Nam, said.
“We supply film projectors in three ways – joint venture, lend and sell. The local film distribution companies can make their choice according to their financial capability.”
His suggestion received support from the cinema department.
“It needs tremendous efforts from both sides - the cinema department and the film distribution companies,” Lan said.
“The department must support policy and development planning, while the companies must be proactive in implementing their plan. It is difficult for the department to ensure film resources and pour money into the companies’ operations,” she said. — VNS