'Mien Ky Uc' earns kudos at Busan International Film Festival

By Hieu Nhan   October 15, 2021 | 06:30 am PT
'Mien Ky Uc' (Memoryland) by Vietnamese director Bui Kim Quy has been praised for its artistic plot and poetic images.

The movie was shown in the "News Currents" category at 2021 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) on Oct. 10, 11 and 14, without the presence of crew members as Quy, having health issues, cannot attend the festival.

"The film’s clarity, focus and eloquence come from poetic images of decay, crisply captured by cinematographer Xuan Truong Dang. Rotted fruit, fallen leaves, a bowl of rice swarming with ants, broken pots, empty buildings, fading portraits on a weathered wall, collapsed roofs and abandoned villages all speak to the absence of something that was once vital and alive," film news website Screendaily commented.

According to the website, "Mien Ky Uc" uses a chain of interrelated stories to explore attitudes about death in Vietnam.

"Ritual and practicality, harmony and discord, fond wishes and hard choices all compete in the struggle to achieve a lasting peace for the dear departed," it said, adding in the movie, Hanoi is a clutter of construction sites, traffic jams, and looming apartment blocks that crowd the sky and choke the roots of what once was there.

"In the end, perhaps Vietnam itself has become a memoryland."

A still from Mien Ky Uc. Photo courtesy of BIFF

A still from "Mien Ky Uc." Photo courtesy of BIFF

Director Park Sung Ho, member of the festival's organizing committee, said: "In the end, attitudes toward death are determined by how the living receive it. It cannot be forced for anyone to miss someone and to live with a debt of memory. Ultimately, ‘Memoryland’ by Kim Quy Bui settles on revealing the truth that no one can escape it."

According to BIFF, the movie, 99-minutes long, opens with the death of a mother. Although her heartbeat stops, her consciousness continues worrying about her son and blessing him. Her neighbor digs a grave near the house in the field for her, but the son insists on cremation.

Because he does not receive much in the way of inheritance, he must be careful budgeting for the funeral. Another man is killed by an accident at a construction site. His wife suddenly becomes widowed, but decides to go to her husband’s hometown to bury him and comfort his soul. Her relatives, however, doubt her sincerity, since she is still young and beautiful.

The movie will come up against 10 others from countries like Iran, China and India for the New Currents Award.

Two winning directors will get a cash award of $30,000.

According to festival organizers, the prize is given to the first or second work of an Asian director.

In 2019, "Rom" by Tran Dung Thanh Huy won the award.

Quy is a writer and director who studied screenwriting at the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema, and works as a lecturer. She writes scripts for films as well as television.

Her first feature film, 'Nguoi Truyen Giong' (The Inseminator), was shown in the Window On Asian Cinema section in Busan 2014 and won the Best Film Photography Award at 2015 ASEAN International Film Festival.

"Memoryland", her second movie, was supported by ASEAN Cinema Fund Busan’s Script Development Fund in 2016.

The 26th Busan International Film Festival, held from Octo. 6-15 in Busan, South Korea, received 223 entries from 70 countries and terriories.

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