The Third Wife fined for releasing ‘unapproved’ version in Vietnam cinemas

By An Nguyen   May 26, 2019 | 06:40 am PT
Producers of The Third Wife have been fined VND50 million ($2,140) for screening unapproved 'inappropriate' scenes in Vietnamese cinemas.
A scene in the film The Third Wife featuring actress Nguyen Phuong Tra My.

A scene in the film The Third Wife featuring actress Nguyen Phuong Tra My.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ta Quang Dong announced Friday that the The Third Wife version released in Vietnam by its producer Ba Sac Cau Vong was not the officially approved one. Dong did not specify the differences between the two versions.

He added that the ministry's Cinema Department had followed legal procedures to provide the production license and facilitate dissemination of the movie.

From the standpoint of Vietnamese culture and sensitivities, a 13-year-old child acting in intimate scenes in the film was "not appropriate and not permissible," Dong said.

Officials working in child protection also spoke out against the use of the child actress in such scenes, saying they could have a psychological effect on her.

Though Nguyen Phuong Tra My’s family had consented, having a child act in sensitive scenes violates the Law on Children and Labour Code, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung said Friday.

In The Third Wife (Vo Ba in Vietnamese) directed by Nguyen Phuong Anh (Ash Mayfair), My plays the third wife of a 19th century landowner. She has some sexually intimate scenes with her husband, played by Le Vu Long and his second wife, played by Mai Thu Huong aka Maya.

The producers said they broke no law in producing and distributing the film, and it was approved by the Cinema Department for release in Vietnam.

My was represented by her mother in the contract. The crew took every measure to protect her while filming sensitive scenes, with only women - the director, assistant director and camerawoman -being on the set.

"When filming the 'hot' scene, the crew ensured the camera angles and [body] accessories prevented any [exposure] but still managed to create an effect of intimacy between them," producer Tran Thi Bich Ngoc said.

My too said she was well protected on the sets. She wore a protective sheath while her mother closely followed the filming.

The movie was released in Vietnamese cinemas starting May 17, but pulled May 21 following a public uproar.

However, its foreign release will go ahead as planned. It was released in the U.S. on May 15 and is set to be shown in 27 other markets.

The Third Wife is a critically acclaimed debut feature for Mayfair. The film has won several prizes at international festivals including the NETPAC Award at the Toronto International Film Festival (Canada), TVE-Another Look award at the San Sebastian Film Festival (Spain) and Best Film award at the Kolkata International Film Festival (India).

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