Viet Nam News
Director Lương Đình Dũng’s movie Cha Cõng Con (Father and Son) has received international awards, including Best Cinematography at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival, Best Feature Film award at the Canadian Diversity Film Festival, and Indie Spirit Best Story Line Award at the 15th Boston International Film Festival on April 17.
Adapted from Dung’s 1995 short story of the same name, the film tells the story of a boy named Cá who has always dreamed of touching the clouds and of a father who has spent his whole life fishing by the river.
CULTURE VULTURE interviews Dũng about his movie.
Cha Cõng Con (Father and Son) was based on your short story and you experienced many difficulties in turning it into a movie. What in the movie makes you happiest?
Until now, I cannot believe that the movie is being shown. It is wonderful. The first time I went to the cinema, I was very nervous. But then I heard a sob from someone in the audience.
Frankly, I’m very happy to show the movie to Vietnamese audiences because I was rejected by distributors for a long time. Luckily, I met the Lotte Cinema distributor who agreed to distribute my movie. However, I’m sad because not all cinemas have agreed to screen the movie.
Your movie is not a blockbuster. Could you share the distribution difficulties?
At the beginning, I thought distribution would be simple, but it was not. It is the biggest obstacle to introducing the movie to audiences. While I received invitations to premiere the movie at international film festivals and to distribute it in Europe, Vietnamese distributors said my movie was not a money maker. Only Lotte Cinema agreed to distribute the movie at the CGV, Galaxy, BHD cinema system and the National Film Centre with 66 cinemas throughout the country.
I got positive feedback from mass media and audiences. After three days of screening, the Lotte distributor informed me that when the movie was being shown at some cinemas, audiences occupied 70-80 per cent of the seats.
But in other cinemas, the movie, which is a family film, is scheduled for showing at 9am, 1pm, 11pm on weekends or 4pm on weekdays. These times don’t suit children. The movie advertisement at these cinemas is very limited.
Do you need support from other individuals and organisations to bring the movie to more audiences ?
I think the State should buy good independent movies and have proper policies to support distribution. It is very important. All my money was invested in making the movie. I hope Father and Son will be noticed by the Cinematography Department and receive financial support with a view to showing it to a wide range of audiences.
Why did you want to make an art-house movie?
I remember that when I was small, my father and I saw a young man whipping his father till he bled. My father, who was a boxer, stopped him. All the people around wanted to take him to the police, but his father didn’t. He said his son was a drunk. I was obsessed by the scene and I wanted to make a film about family relationships.
You proposed the movie script to producers but they refused. Do you know why ?
Producers didn’t want to spend money on various elements of the script, such as a storm scene. They also thought it would be difficult to distribute the movie and feared it might fail.
We took a risk and filmed a real storm at the top of Bắc Mê hill in the northern mountain province of Hà Giang. The area was flooded right after the movie crew left. It took two months to shoot the movie.
Why did you invite veteran director of photography Lý Thái Dũng and South Korean musician Lee Dong-jun to join the movie crew?
I think they liked the script. Dũng is a master and he works on blockbusters. He is very talent and accepts all my crazy ideas. I like the music in the Korean movie Miracle in Cell No7 very much. The music score was written by Lee. He agreed to write the music after he saw my movie’s draft version. — VNS