Vietnamese short animated feature to compete in Cannes

By Que Chi   May 1, 2022 | 12:17 am PT
Vietnamese short animated feature to compete in Cannes
A scene in Mai Vu's 'Spring Roll Dream'
‘Spring Roll Dream', a short animated film by Vietnamese director Mai Vu, is set to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s category for works by film-school students.

The ninth-minute animated work is a graduation project of Mai Vu – a student of the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in England. It was nominated in the La Cinef, a category that honors works by students from film schools across the world. There were 1,528 submissions in this category, but only 16 were selected for nomination.

The stop-motion short tells the story of a Vietnamese family in the U.S. The main character is Linh, a single mother building a stable life for her son Alan. But that balance is disrupted when her father Sang visited from Vietnam.

During one meal, he insists on making Vietnamese spring rolls for his grandson but Linh wants mac and cheese instead. From here, the conflict arose between Sang and Linh. That’s when "Linh is confronted with the past and culture she left behind and the question of where it belongs in her family's new life".

The character of Sang was inspired by a lonely old father who wants to connect with his children and grandchildren but only knows how to express his love by cooking for them.

"During the process of finding an idea for my graduation film, I wanted to tell a story about a man. I got the inspiration for the film from my father and family," Mai said.

The key contributors to the project were Mai’s university mates. Due to distance involved and Covid-19, many parts of the film had to be done online.

NFTS provided £9,000 ($11,300) for the film and it was mainly used to buy materials, pay for studio expenses, voiceovers and collaborators.

Since making a stop motion film requires a lot of work and production time, the crew could only produce one minute of film a month.

Mai came up with the idea for "Spring Roll Dream" in her first days in the Directing Animation class of NFTS. She completed the film earlier this year. During over two years of making the film, the filming process took nearly eight months.

Mai said: "Going to Cannes is an honor for me and the people who made this film. This is a rare opportunity. I hope to bring the perspective of Vietnamese to friends from other countries".

She was born in HCMC and has been working in animation since 2011. From 2012-2015 she directed more than 70 episodes of ‘Xin Chao But Chi’ (Hello Pencil), the first stop motion animated series made in Vietnam. In 2020, she went to the UK to study animation at the NFTS and graduated in March this year.

The Cannes festival will be held from May 17 to 28.

The best three short films in the La Cinef category will receive awards.

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