Director Đặng Nhật Minh recently received Licorne d’Or d’Honneur (Golden Unicorn Award) at the 36th Amiens International Film Festival (FIFAM) for his life-long contribution to filmmaking. Parrallel to the awards ceremony, eight of his films were screened at the festival.
Phương Hà interviewed director Minh about his award.
Congratulations on the award. What can you tell us about it?
FIFAM 2016 is not an A-listed film festival like Cannes,Venice or Berlin. But it is globally recorgnised and has a 36-year history. About 19 years ago, Vietnamese filmmaker Khuong Me was honoured at FIFAM for making the first documentary about southern Viet Nam’s resistance against the French colonialists.
I’m the second Vietnamese to be honoured in the motion picture category. When I went on stage to receive the trophy I said that this honour is not for me only but also for Vietnamese cinema.
How were your films received at the festival ?
It is the first time I am honoured with a programme showing my movies at a film festival, although they have been acclaimed at other international festivals. The movies include Thị Xã Trong Tầm Tay (Town Within Reach) and Đừng Đốt (Don’t Burn). I made Thị Xã Trong Tầm Tay about 33 years ago while Đừng Đốt is my latest one, six years ago. I didn’t know how the Amiens audience would receive the movies. It is great because more and more people are coming to the film shows.
What a pity that I could not attend the last show screening of Don’t Burn because I had to go to Paris to take a return flight. I asked Vietnamese overseas director Lê Lâm to meet and talk with the audience after the show.
When I came home I received an email from Lâm. He wrote that many had watched all eight movies at the festival and asked him to send me their thanks. He wrote: "All your movies are humane and show a love of humanity. All of them are impressive, highlighting the suffering and sacrifice of the Vietnamese, which generate broad sympathy. Your stories reflect inner feelings. Your film aesthetics are beautiful and gentle. All characters in your movies are faithful and family-oriented."
Lam wrote to me that French audiences only know about Vietnamese cinema through three movies by Vietnamese-French director Trần Anh Hùng and a few others by young filmmakers. Now they had a chance to see the eight movies at FIFAM 2016 and they discovered another aspect of Vietnamese cinema that they had not known before.
"They said that the themes in your movies are more and more rare in modern society, and in the West, in particular. They regretted that their friends could not get to see the films. They hope you will return to Amiens and show your film programme again. A student with her friends from an art and theatre school in Amiens gave me a paper that she wrote and wants me to send it to you "It’s amazing. Thank you!"
"Many Amiens audiences told me that your film programme was a highlight and important event at FIFAM 2016. Many young filmmakers asked me whether I would screen your movies again. I will discuss this with the FIFAM organisation board".
Will this event promote Vietnamese cinema?
Of course, I hope there will be many Vietnamese directors honoured and their movies will be shown to French audiences. I want to thank director Lâm who introduced my films to FIFAM organisers.
Do you know why you are among the rare Vietnamese directors to be highly appreciated by international colleages? Is it because of your strong personal point of view?
Showing my eight movies in Amiens was a way to see whether the movies had weathered the test of time. Luckily they were warmly received as if they had just been made yesterday. The movie Hà Nội’s Winter in 1946 made me a litle nervous because it is sensitive in terms of the historic events between with France. But, in fact, the movie was welcomed by French audiences.
What do you think about contemporary Vietnamese cinema?
There are many Vietnamese movies with different themes being produced. But my personal opinion is that Vietnamese movies don’t have an ideology. The cinema industry is operating in accordance with the general rule of society. I have a feeling that my movies being shown in Amiens are antiques. Luckily they are still favoured.
When will you make your next movie?
At present I have five completed scripts in my desk drawer, which are waiting for financial support. I believe I will have an opportunity to make more films. — VNS