Viet Nam News
by Thu Anh
South Korea-based CJ Entertainment company, in co-operation with its Vietnamese partner, Yeah1 CMG, has completed a new film on teenage love in hopes of drawing young audiences.
Cô Gái Đến Từ Hôm Qua (The Girl from Yesterday) is about school, boys and girls, and their stories of love and compassion.
It is based on the novel of the same name by Nguyễn Nhật Ánh, a best-selling author in HCM City.
Ánh’s book, published in 1990, has sold more than 200,000 copies. It has been used to teach Vietnamese at Moscow State University since 2012.
The producers are hoping the film will be entertaining enough to lure away young audiences, particularly high school students, from Korean and American movies that dominate the local cinema.
They have spent more than a year shooting the film, using high-tech equipment.
“I was very interested in working on Cô Gái Đến Từ Hôm Qua because the film features life and love through the eyes of young characters,” said director Phan Gia Nhật Linh in an interview with local media before his film is released in cinemas next week.
“I hope my film will meet the taste of young viewers, particularly teenagers, this summer,” said the 39-year-old.
"I just hope viewers will learn simple but useful lessons from my film. I also want them to find their own way to grow after watching the film,” he said.
Cô Gái Đến Từ Hôm Qua starred pop singers Miu Lê, Ngô Kiến Huy and Jun Phạm, who are film icons for many teenagers.
“I used young faces because it’s the best way to ensure my film’s characters strike a chord in teenagers," said Linh, adding that he had tried to have a good understanding of the lifestyle of teenagers by observing the young actors.
Singer Miu Lê, who played a leading role in the film said that despite strong demand from young audiences, the number of quality films on these subjects was still low.
She said that film producers should work jointly with publishing houses and talented authors to create quality books and screenplays for teenagers.
"Movies for youth are a promising market," she said.
Teenage thrills: A scene from Cô Gái Đến Từ Hôm Qua (The Girl From Yesterday), a film that will be released next week. Photo courtesy of the film producer
Despite being talented and blessed with a large viewership, Vietnamese filmmakers face difficulties in making films for young children and teenagers.
"The main hurdle is that producers often work on poor screenplays that are not suitable for such viewers," Đan Khanh, a movie critic for HCM City Television magazine, said. “So they don’t want to make celluloid or TV series at a cost of billions of đồng with these lightweight screenplays.”
But she conceded that making movies for young audiences, particularly teenagers, was difficult.
"Producers and directors need good screenplays and skilled young actors who can infuse life into teenagers’ roles.”
Another common problem is that directors and screenwriters do not fully comprehend youngsters’ psyches.
Movie director Lê Thanh Sơn, who works for several private film studios, said: "Young people have their own way of perceiving the world, and this is not always easy to understand."
“Many viewers on online movie forums complain that characters in Vietnamese films are just ‘silly’ boys and girls and ‘we never think and act like them’," he added.
Sơn’s latest film, Em Chưa 18 (Jailbait), a dramatic comedy work on the life and loves of high school students, broke the country’s box office record after just a month of release.
The film had earned VNĐ170 billion (US$7.5 million) up to last Monday with 2.5 million tickets sold, becoming the highest-grossing film in the country of all time, overcoming Hollywood blockbusters Kong: Skull Island and Fast and Furious 8.
Em Chưa 18 is about the romantic relationship between a 17-year-old student from a bilingual school and a handsome yoga instructor who is almost twice her age.
“We invested only VNĐ12 billion (US$530,000) and used a cast of relatively unknown actors,” said Sơn, adding that his staff was not sure about the film’s financial success but they knew what young audiences want in a film.
“In movies, youngsters want their thoughts and stories to be told in a realistic way,” he said.
Sơn said he was working with a private film company on a new project featuring young girls who face problems while on the threshold of life.
“I see a big business here. I will give young audience what they love to watch,” he added.
Another talented film director, Vietnamese-American Charlie Nguyễn, has wrapped up work on Sát Thủ Đầu Mang Mũ (Hackers), a Vietnamese version of the Korean blockbuster Luck-Kye which will be shown in cinemas later this year.
The film features young hackers and their secrets.
It features young actress Kaity Nguyễn, who became highly popular among youth after playing in Em Chưa 18.
The film is expected to be a hit in Chirstmas season this year. VNS