Several young people in Vietnam have found, with the help of new methods, their avocation to be the making of documentary films.
Even though documentaries can be considered dry and suitable only for middle-aged or elderly people, such young film-makers are expected to infuse a new spirit of youthful enthusiasm into the industry.
As part of their studies, they often attended free training courses and took part in film-making projects sponsored by the Vietnam Cinema Association’s Centre for Assistance and Development of Movie Talents (TPD) and Documentary Film-Making and Video Art Centre (HanoiDoclab).
After attending training courses at TPD, Vy Nguyen Anh Phong, a student from the Hanoi-based University of Architecture, has made two short documentaries.
Ha Le Diem, a student of architecture from the Hanoi University of Humanities and Social Science, was very interested in Direct Cinema training courses at HanoiDoclab and TPD.
“Images play an important role–sometimes at the expense of talk– in such new methods of film-making,” Ha said.
According to Nguyen Thu Ha, a student from the publication sector, Direct Cinema allows film-makers to take part in the story of the film’s character and fosters interaction between the director and the character.
Even though Direct Cinema has been quite popular among documentary film-makers in several countries around the world, it’s still rather new in Vietnam, having begun here about 10 years ago.
Such new methods of film-making have inspired more individual documentary projects in Vietnam.
While individual film projects allow film-makers a chance to convey their own messages, it requires a greater effort from them to realise their plans, especially in the area of fund-raising.
“A documentary is something like a hard problem. In spite of its difficulties, each individual film project repays the film-maker more than they expected, as it offers them a chance to challenge themselves in all phases of film- making. This experience helps improve their skills a lot,” said Mai Le Dung, a student from Hanoi University of Natural Science.
A TPD staff member who is in charge of training said a course often has from 15 to 20 trainees but only a few are patient enough and brave enough to complete the course and create their own films.
Ha Le Diem, a young film-maker said, “During the making of “Con Di Truong Hoc”, I had to travel to the northern province of Bac Kan several times. Sometimes, I had to quit school in order not to miss important scenes with my main character, an HIV-infected woman.”
Chu Viet Nga, a student of the Hanoi-based Academy of Journalism and Communication, encountered many dangers during the making of “Noi Niem Xu Rac” or “Innermost Feelings in a Waste Dump”. The film tells the story of people who are earning a living from Nam Son dump site in Hanoi’s Soc Son District.
“I was harassed twice by some guys who work for the site’s managers, who took away my camera’s memory card, thereby destroying many minutes of the film’s potential content,” Nga said.
In order to make “Buong Benh So 8” or “Patient Room 8”, Mai Le Dung had to shoot several scenes secretly as he did not receive permission from the hospital to make the film on their premises. He had to spend some time staying at the hospital and living with the patients in order to finish the short documentary which was part of the Social doc. project funded by TPD and the Vietnam-Denmark Cultural Development and Exchange Fund (CDEF).
Several documentary projects from TPD and Hanoidoclab have been sent to prestigious international film festivals and won some awards.
“No” or “Debt” by Bui Thi Ha and “Me va Con” or “Mother and Child” by Phan Huyen My, were awarded the Silver Kite Prize, while “Dong Luc Song” or “Living Motive” by Chu Viet Nga, was honoured with a Certificate of Merit; all awards from the Vietnam Cinema Association for short films.
Vy Nguyen Anh Phong has introduced his “De Danh” or “Saving” film in Tokyo.
Nguyen Hoang Phuong, a project officer at TPD, said, “I believe that such fast development of these new documentaries will help improve the awareness of art among Vietnamese audiences in the future.”
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