VietNamNet Bridge – A group of Vietnamese and French scriptwriters have joined hand to write script for a movie on don ca tai tu (southern folk music) in South Vietnam in the 1900s.
Cleo de Mérode performed “Indochina Dance,” accompanied by the Vietnamese don ca tai tu band. File photo
The screenwriters of “Indochina Dance” include: researcher Nguyen Le Tuyen (Australia National University), Professor Yves Defrance (University of Rennes, France), writer Ngo Thi Hanh, director Huy Moeller (Saigon International Film School) and researcher Nguyen Duc Hiep (Australia).
The script is based on historical facts on music in My Tho – South Vietnam in the 1900. The film revolves around the life of Mr. Nguyen Tong Trieu, who founded a don ca tai tu band to perform at hotels and theaters.
Trieu was known for talent in playing dan kim (two-stringed Vietnamese traditional musical instrument). His talent shook the heart of so many people, including Mr. Viang – a French audience, who invited Trieu’s band to the Colonial Fair 1906 in Marseille, France.
The script focuses on the band’s trip to the fair in France, where they played the “Indochina Dance” music for French dancer Cleo de Mérode.
Cleo de Mérode was born in Paris in 1875, in a noble family in Belgium. She studied ballet at the famous national dance school in Paris – Opera Ballet School – at the age of 7. At that time, she was considered “la Reine de Beauté” (Beauty Queen) and famous in Europe as an actress. At the age of 25, she gained a lot of glory and was admired by Paris women as well as the French artists.
Currently, the script is in the process of completion. The authors are also looking for investors for the film project.
“We hope to find enough funding to make a good film, with the best music compared to other Vietnamese movies. The film is expected to be shot in My Tho – Paris – Marseille,” playwright Ngo Thi Hanh said.
This is part of the project “Indochina Theatre,” which was established in mid-July from the idea of music researcher Nguyen Le Tuyen. Director Huy Moeller developed a website for this project, which is seen as an online theater. The music piece “Indochina Dance” will be restored and posted on this site.
The Paris World Fair in 1900 built the Indochina Theater within five months. After the fair, the theater was removed but photos and films about the theatre are still carefully kept in French museums.
In the project “Indochina Theatre,” in addition to the movie, there are two books on the event will be released. The first is a novel entitled “Indochina Dance” by writer Ngo Thi Hanh, which will be launched in June 2014.
On September 27, 2013, the project will release the book “Hat boi, don ca tai tu, and cai luong in late 19th century to early 20th century” (printed and distributed by Phuong Nam Company). In the book launch ceremony, the dance by Cleo de Mérode will be performed by dancer Trac Thuy Mieu.
Don ca tai tu is a genre of chamber music in the traditional music of southern Vietnam, literally “music of amateurs.” Its instrumentation resembles that of the ca Hue style; additionally, modified versions of the European instruments guitar, violin, and steel guitar are used.