Film festival jury pans industry for lack of quality

By Nhat Linh   November 27, 2019 | 04:55 am PT
Film festival jury pans industry for lack of quality
The poster of "Lat Mat: Nha Co Khach" (Face Off: The Walking Guest). It is one of films competing at the 21st Vietnam Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Ly Hai Production.
Vietnamese movies tread the beaten path, with most revolving around family sentiments and romance and few being outstanding or pathbreaking, according to critics.

At a workshop on how to improve their quality as the country integrates with the world as part of the 21st Vietnam Film Festival (VFF) in southern Vung Tau Town this week, head of the festival jury, Tran Luan Kim, said their themes are limited. 

Few movies are made for children, and despite the manifest deterioration in ethical and moral values, films barely broach them and there have not been any made exposing corruption, he said.

Other judges said a majority are safely family-centered, romantic, or about teenage and school life, very few have themes that are new. It is important to record that corruption is a major problem, but cinema has failed to do so, they said.

Kim admitted it is risky business for filmmakers to broach corruption, since it is a sensitive issue. "If a film is not hard-hitting, it brings little value, whereas if it is, there may be consequences."

Some filmmakers have tried but failed to do it well, he said. 

A screenshot from the trailer of Thua Me Con Di (Goodbye Mother).

A screenshot from the trailer of "Thua Me Con Di" (Goodbye Mother).

Phan Gia Nhat Linh, director of the film "Co Gai Den Tu Hom Qua" (The Girl From Yesterday), said strict movie censorship is another reason for the theme limit. Filmmakers are constantly in fear of the censors, who often crack the whip but with vague criticism such as "violation of customs " and "misrepresentation of social reality." 

He gave the example of the movie "Thua Me Con Di" (Goodbye Mother) directed by Trinh Dinh Le Minh, which was forced to cut a scene showing a chicken offering lying on the floor after a quarrel between family members. The reason? Violation of a custom.

In recent years private studios have been dominating the film industry. All 16 films competed at last year’s VFF were made by private producers. This year there are four films produced by state-owned studios and 16 by private producers. 

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