Japanese woman demands apology from producer of Trinh Cong Son biopic

By Mai Nhat   September 15, 2022 | 11:55 pm PT
Japanese woman demands apology from producer of Trinh Cong Son biopic
Trinh Cong Son (L) and Michiko Yoshii. Photo acquired by VnExpress
Michiko Yoshii, Trinh Cong Son's Japanese muse, wants the production company that made the movie "Em Va Trinh" to apologize for inappropriately depicting her private life.

She issued a notice on September 13 to Galaxy Play, which released the movie in June, asking it to publicly express regret for divulging her private life to the public without her consent.

"Em Va Trinh," a biopic on Trinh Cong Son (1939-2001), arguably Vietnam’s greatest ever musician, has a character playing Yoshii and reveals a lot of details about her relationship with Son.

Yoshii wanted an apology through a press release within seven days.

She also wants the apology included in the film every time it is screened and the producer to make a pledge not to do something similar again.

If the request is not met, her attorney will commence legal action.

The production company merely said it has received the notice from Yoshii and made no further comment.

Nguyen Thi Diem Phuong, Yoshii's lawyer, claimed her client remained silent when the film was released for fear of affecting its revenue.

Yoshii's son, who is involved in many charity initiatives in Vietnam, saw the film and was reportedly taken aback to see a lot of inaccuracies and her character (played by Japanese actress Nakatani Akari) canceling her wedding with Son (played by Tran Luc) and returning to Japan.

One of the primary plot developments of the film is the love story between Son and Yoshii.

She is a university student in Paris, France, in the late 1980s when she falls in love with Vietnamese culture, language and people, notably Son's music.

Despite having a master's degree in Japanese culture, she is pursuing a master's degree in Trinh Cong Son's anti-war music.

She travels to Vietnam to meet a writer she admires and Son's music and master thesis bridge their relationship.

According to Trinh Vinh Trinh, Son's sister, her brother and Michiko once intended to marry, but it failed to go ahead for unknown reasons.

Yoshii successfully defended her thesis on the influence of Trinh Cong Son's anti-war music in wartime Vietnamese society in Paris in 1991, and examiners at the University of Paris VII graded it as excellent.

Now Yoshii frequently visits Vietnam and burns incense at Son’s grave.

She is currently a professor at Mie University's Center for International Education and Research in Japan.

"Em Va Trinh" has been biggest Vietnamese hit this year with box office collections of more than VND100 billion (US$4.2 million).

But it has sparked a lot of debate and received mixed reviews.

Some viewers have said the portrayal of the musician in the film is different from what they understood from reading about him.

Others said Son's connection with Yoshii was wrongly depicted, changing him into a shallow person while in love.

According to the production company, it had attempted to "relive the legend" of Trinh Cong Son and therefore mistakes were unavoidable.

The work is a biopic and not a documentary, and this was made explicit at the start of the film by the disclaimer "inspired by real characters," it pointed out.

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