Rekindling love at the market

Update: August, 10/2016 - 09:00
Unique gathering: The Khâu Vai Love Market is held annually from the late evening of the third lunar month’s 26th day until the end of the next day in Khâu Vai Commune, Mèo Vạc District, in the northernmost province of Việt Nam, Hà Giang. Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – Polish-American director Matt Dworzańczyk has just posted his latest documentary about a traditional love market in a remote area of northern Việt Nam on YouTube.

The film has attracted more than 8,600 views since its launch on August 2.

Titled Vibrant Highland, Commercial Love, the 90-minute film provides deep insight into the nature of love, tribal kings, the opium trade, kidnappings for China’s sex trade and homosexuality among ethnic minorities in the northern province of Hà Giang. It also talks about political re-education, spirits and magic.

All these stories are intertwined in an energetic narrative centering around the myth and conspiracy of the secretive Khâu Vai Love Market, a unique event during which ethnic couples supposedly break away from their families seeking to reconnect with their old lovers.

Starting with a journey to the legendary Love Market by bike, featuring Dworzanczyk and his friends, the trip unveils various unique features of locals’ lifestyle as well as spectacular natural sceneries.

The documentary was completed two years ago and premiered at the World’s Indie Film Festival in San Francisco, the US, earlier this year, where it was awarded the Best Documentary Feature title.

It has also been screened in Berlin, Germany.

Another film by Dworzańczyk, The Land of Whispers, has also attracted a large number of viewers, only two weeks after it was posted on YouTube in 2013.

The Khâu Vai Love Market is held annually, from the late evening of the third lunar month’s 26th day until the end of next day, in Khâu Vai Commune, Mèo Vạc District, in Hà Giang.

According to legend, the Khâu Vai Love Market Festival originated from a sad love story: A couple from different tribes fell deeply in love; however, their marriage was forbidden by the girl’s tribe. A violent conflict later occurred between the two tribes and caused bloodshed for both of them. To stop the fierce battles, the couple decided to part ways with broken hearts. Still, they promised to see each other once a year on the lunar March 26 in Khâu Vai.

Since then, on every lunar March 26, the Khâu Vai Love Market Festival emerges as an occasion for couples of different ages who used to be in love but could not get married to come and reunite once again.

About a century has passed by, and the festival still remains. During the event, spouses can go to the market together, but individually seek out their own partners for sharing their innermost feelings.

Spouses do not get angry or jealous because the meeting at the market is just a temporary moment and does not influence their daily lives or relationships.

The market also attracts those who are eager to find a partner for the first time.

This famous festival attracts many local ethnic groups living near and far, like the Nùng, Giáy and Mông.

Attending the event, tourists have invaluable chances to witness northern mountainous ethnic culture and tradition, including foods and drinks, folk dance performances and games.

The documentary can be watched at — VNS

Smiles all around: Children in Khâu Vai Commune, Mèo Vạc District, Hà Giang Province. Photo
Love in Viet Nam: The documentary features lots of interviews with local couples. VNS Photo Lê Hương
Storyteller: Polish-American director Matt Dworzańczyk appears at the introduction of his documentary. VNS Photo Lê Hương