Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Film director Huỳnh Tuấn Anh of HCM City is working on his latest production about cải lương (reformed opera), a traditional theatre of the South.
The film, Gạo Chợ Nước Sông (Rice Market and River), features travelling cải lương troupes in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta region in the 1970s.
It portrays cải lương performers living in Bạc Liêu and Cà Mau provinces, home of the art, who were once farmers.
Their love and devotion for cải lương is depicted in the film.
“My film also tells the beginning of cải lương in Sài Gòn (now HCM City) in the 1920s. It highlights cải lương stars of different generations who developed and preserved the traditional art,“ said Anh, a graduate of HCM City University of Theatre & Cinematography.
Anh and his staff are working on the first scenes in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu province.
They worked hard to rebuild Tây Sài Gòn Theatre (now HCM City Opera House), which offered the first show of cải lương on November, 16, 1918.
The show, titled Gia Long Tẩu Quốc (King Gia Long Travels to the West), features events before the reign of Nguyễn Dynasty in the 1780s.
The play was written by Hồ Biểu Chánh and Trương Duy Toản, who are recognised as the south’s first contemporary writers.
Director Anh asked his artists, including young actors Phi Ngọc Ánh and Lãnh Thanh, to learn how to sing cải lương.
“My producers spent VNĐ14 billion (US$615,000) on the production, so I don’t want any mistake during filming,” said Anh.
Anh’s 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.
It features the culture and lifestyle of southern people, particularly women.
The work comes from Tư’s short story collection, Cánh Đồng Bất Tận (Endless Field), the year’s Best Book by Việt Nam Writers’ Association Award in 2006.
"After watching, I hope audiences will be entertained and gain knowledge about southern culture and cải lương in particular,” said Anh.
Gạo Chợ Nước Sông is expected to be in cinemas during the Christmas season to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of cải lương. —VNS