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Vietnam directors hit regional film fest

Actor Don Duong works out the chemistry with actress Thuy Nga in a take of the competing film.
Vietnamese directors are hoping to reverse the tide of South Korean films being screened in Vietnam by taking three domestic films to the 47th Asia-Pacific Film Festival in Seoul this October.

Of the three Vietnamese films to be screened at the competition, Me Thao Thoi Vang Bong (The Glorious Time in Me Thao Hamlet) is expected to be the luckiest.

The film, which will represent Vietnamese cinema alongside Cai Tat Sau Canh Ga (A Slap Behind the Wings) and Vua Bai Rac (King of Debris), is a sentimental depiction of the lives of a fictitious serene hamlet called Me Thao.

The established director Viet Linh made Me Thao Thoi Vang Bong as an adaptation of Nguyen Tuan’s novel Chua Dan.

Tuan is heavily influenced by tradition, and his characters are frequently the same – such strict followers of traditional ways that they turn their backs on alien elements.

This story honours the rhythms of a thousand years of ca tru folk music by uncovering the different lives of people who reside in the cradle of the art.

After the death of his beloved wife, Nguyen (played by Dung Nhi) feels he has nothing to live for.

The dan day (a three-stringed instrument) master Truong Tam (Don Duong) attempts to bring Nguyen back to happiness by setting him up with the ca tru singer To.

The three are soon trapped in a love triangle, in which Truong Tam gives up his love for To in order to pay off a debt of gratitude to Nguyen.

Meanwhile, Nguyen is still haunted by his love for his late wife and neglects the affections of To, whose secret weapons to win Nguyen’s heart are her moving music and pure emotion.

During the climax of a magical dan day performance, Truong Tam dies and Nguyen cries desperately next to his friend’s body. The lives of the living Nguyen and To are not linked forever.

The picture has been shown to industry peers, and will have its public premiere next month. Every scene and take was shot in a meticulous style.

Set in the idealised northern countryside, Me Thao Thoi Vang Bong is full of gorgeous images such as the village well, ponds of floating water-fern, and flat baskets full of shining yellow silkworms.

The film crew thoroughly recreated village scenes, laying railway lines and transporting bombax trees and their scarlet blooms.

"My team aimed to make the film as not only a detailed production but a real aesthetic artwork," Viet Linh says.

"Major scenes each cost about 50 to 60 million dong, and the railway line cost about 30 million to build."

According to Viet Linh, who is behind international award-winning movies such as Chung Cu (Dormitory), the movie reflects her ambition to make a "Vietnamese identity" movie. She says Nguyen Tuan’s novels are the best choice for this style of movie.

Cai Tat Sau Canh Ga and Vua Bai Rac, which will also screen in Seoul, were directed by Tat Binh (from Film Studio 1) and Do Minh Tuan (Vietnam Film Studio), respectively.

Me Thao Thoi Vang Bong will soon open in cinemas across Vietnam.

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper.


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