A scene from The Third Wife movie, which is controversial now due to sexual shots. It has been stopped sceening in the country. — File Photo
HÀ NỘI — Screenings of the recently released movie Vợ Ba (The Third Wife) have been suspended indefinitely over intimate sex scenes featuring a 13-year-old actress.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism asked the Department of Cinematography to review the procedures that allowed director Nguyễn Phương Anh's movie to be shown.
The film has stirred controversy among domestic audiences since it premiered on May 11 due to sexual scenes performed by heroine Nguyễn Phương Trà My, who was only 13 at the time she played the role.
Nguyễn Thái Bình, a ministry spokesman, confirmed the ministry had ordered the cinema department to report back by Friday.
“The ministry has received a document from Ba Sắc Cầu Vồng LMT Company, that produced the film, saying the company has asked all cinemas in the country to stop screening the film from 6pm, May 20,” Bình told zing.vn.
A representative from CGV, which distributes the film, also confirmed it had stopped screenings from Monday.
The production team has also released a statement through a legal representative stating that they’re considering pressing charges against some publications for defaming My and her family.
The statement says that the actress's mother approved all the scenes and that the team offered a "professional environment" for filming of "intimate scenes".
Filming took place with few people, including director Anh, an assistant director, a cameraman and My’s mother, while appropriate prosthetics were used to cover the actors’ private parts, it said.
"There’s no exposure of breasts or genitalia like some rumors suggest,” the statement stressed.
The movie features 14-year-old May living in late 19th century. She is given an arranged marriage and becomes the third wife of a rich man.
Before being screened in Việt Nam, the movie gained various awards at international film festivals like the NETPAC award at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018, the Best Art Film Project prize at the Autumn Meeting Forum for independent film producers, and other awards of the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum, the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival, and the 66th San Sebastian International Film Festival.
Social media users have expressed objections to the movie, with some claiming filmmakers broke the law by letting a teenager perform sex scenes.
National Assembly deputy Phạm Thị Minh Hiền, deputy director of Phú Yên Province's Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs strongly opposed a 13-year-old girl starring in the film.
“It’s impossible to accept the way the filmmakers rationalised the law-breaking activities,” she said. “We cannot use children’s images to get profit in the name of art.”
Lawyer Tô Đình Huy said the film producers broke several laws by letting My play sexual scenes.
Lawyer Trần Ngọc Nữ, head of HCM City’s Lawyers Group of Children Protectors’ Association, said the fact that Trà My performed sex scenes and touched the body of a male actor to reflect love making can be judged as sexual violation of children.
She said Article 4, Item 7 of the Children Law defines clearly child abuse.
The action may harm the physical condition, feelings, psychology, honour or dignity of children under forms of violence, sexual abusing, trading, abandoning children and other ways of harming children, she said.
Nữ said though My’s family allowed her to perform in the film, the producer still broke the law.
Võ Mỹ Na, My's mother, said even before shooting began, the director told her there would be no scenes the mother and daughter weren't comfortable with.
“If there were any scenes making me and my daughter uneasy and we wanted to stop, we could have asked them to stop at any time,” she said.
“The team also explained very clearly how they would film, how they would protect My in sexual scenes,” she added.
Na also said the sexual images in the film are not dirty at all.
"They are mysteriously sexy, but not vulgar. All the scenes are made carefully, beautiful and clean. I know many people don't agree with me." — VNS