Viet Nam News
It has been nearly seven years since Vietnamese filmmakers started talking about establishing a Cinema Support Fund at the 17th Việt Nam National Film Festival in 2011 in the central province of Phú Yên. Although a proposal for the fund was submitted to the Government and it has been discussed many times over the years, it still has not been launched.
An official working session was held recently at the cultural ministry’s Department of Cinema to discuss promoting the fund’s establishment.
Thể Thao và Văn Hóa (Culture and Sport) daily interviews Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Vương Duy Biên about the fund.
Could you explain the need for the Cinema Support Fund in Việt Nam?
In fact, the model of the Cinema Support Fund is popular in other countries. This fund is useful for cinema development in any country with a developing cinema industry. The fund will support strongly film companies in Việt Nam. At present, Vietnamese film companies are spearheading efforts to compete fiercely with foreign companies, which engage differently in filmmaking processes such as production and film distribution.
We need to make good films which will be hits at the box office. There are a few Vietnamese films to gain high turnover such as Tôi Thấy Hoa Vàng Trên Cỏ Xanh (Yellow Flowers on Green Grass). This film is State-commissioned. It is a good film that has reached VNĐ80 billion turnover. I think it is a successful film.
To have many successful films such as Tôi Thấy Hoa Vàng Trên Cỏ Xanh we have to think about how to invest into filmmaking effectively. Managers should eliminate the conception that there is a fixed sum needed for film production.
Tôi Thấy Hoa Vàng Trên Cỏ Xanh was made with around VNĐ20 billion (US$1 million) of which the State invested about 8 billion and the rest came from the producer. This investment capital is too small. The block buster Kong: Skull Island was shot in Việt Nam and it had a budget of about $190 million.
If a Vietnamese film is to qualify for export or gain popularity at international film festivals it needs investment capital from between $5 million to $7 million. I think this number is still cheap.
Can you explain why the fund has not been set up yet?
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is making efforts to establish the fund. But it needs the unification and determination of relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Investment. We hope the fund will be established in early next year.
How about the proposal to deduct 3 per cent of ticket sales to set up the fund?
There are many opinions about the fund input. The proposal is a reference to a police set up in some other countries in the region and in the world. I think that all relevant sectors need to contribute to make a good film.
What is the ministry’s role to supervise and manage the fund?
The fund will be set up under the decision by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. It is not difficult to manage the fund but how the fund operates effectively is really a concern. I think that the fund’s executive director needs to be business-minded.
The fund will target arthouse films and first works. How will the fund support filmmakers?
The fund will have not a formula to support filmmakers. The fund will have a council to decide which projects will receive support and how much will be invested. At present, some art associations have invested effectively. They select a proper artist in whom to invest much money. For example, in literature circles, publishing houses have invested in authors whose works are best-sellers. It is the same in the cinema industry.
Arthouse filmmakers are always free to create art. Will be there any limitations for them if their films are supported from the fund?
We are building a cultural orientation. All art tendencies need to have criteria which aim to develop the country and meet the community entertainment demand. The most important criteria is that a good film must be watched by a mass of audiences.
However, we should not pay great attention to the orientation and forget the audience. A good film must be at the box office. If audiences don’t like the film we cannot build the culture. — VNS