Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Galaxy Thiên Ngân Studio of HCM City, in co-operation with its partner Ocean Company, has launched a new film project on cải lương (reformed opera) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the art form’s first play.
The new production Gạo Chợ Nước Sông (Rice Market and River) is about travelling cải lương troupes in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta region. It features the life and career of performers who were farmers and their love of and devotion to cải lương.
The film depicts the beginning of cải lương in Sài Gòn (now HCM City) in the 1920s, including facts about the play Gia Long Tẩu Quốc (King Gia Long Travels to the West), which focused on events before the reign of Nguyễn Dynasty in the 1780s.
The play was first staged at Tây Sài Gòn Theatre (now HCM City Opera House) on November 16, 1918. It was written by authors Hồ Biểu Chánh and Trương Duy Toản, who are recognised as the south’s first contemporary writers.
“Our film features cải lương performers of different generations devoted to preserving and developing this traditional art,” said the film’s director Huỳnh Tuấn Anh.
The film is based on Cuối Mùa Nhan Sắc (The End of Beauty), a short story by female writer Nguyễn Ngọc Tư, winner of the ASEAN Literature Awards presented by the Thai Royal Family in 2008.
The work comes from her collection titled Cánh Đồng Bất Tận (the Endless Field), which helped the writer win the year’s Best Book from the Việt Nam Writers Association in 2006.
“I’m very interested in Tư’s work because her books feature the inner beauty of southern people, particularly women, and their culture and lifestyle,” Tuấn said in an interview with local media before filming.
"I wanted the film to educate and entertain audiences, particularly young people. After watching, I hope they will gain knowledge about southern culture and cải lương in particular.”
Tuấn used talented actors Phi Ngọc Ánh and Lãnh Thanh to play the leading roles, and asked his staff to learn cải lương singing to perfect their role.
Filming will begin next month. Many scenes will be filmed in Bạc Liêu and Cà Mau provinces, home of cải lương.
Gạo Chợ Nước Sông will be in cinemas this summer. —VNS