Vietnamese filmmakers pitch scripts to producers at Saigon event, one scores

By Sen    March 10, 2019 | 02:00 am PT
Vietnamese filmmakers pitch scripts to producers at Saigon event, one scores
Duong Dieu Linh ended up winning the competition and won a four-day film immersion course in Hollywood. Photo courtesy of Script to Screen workshop organizer.
Young Vietnamese filmmakers narrated movie scripts to award-winning producers and critics for the chance to win prizes including a free trip to Hollywood.

Duong Dieu Linh, 29, ended up winning the competition and won a four-day film immersion course in Hollywood in November and a chance to pitch her script there.

It was held Thursday at the Script to Screen workshop held at the U.S. consulate in HCMC by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), Asia Pacific Screen Awards, CJ Entertainment, and Autumn Meeting.

Linh’s "Chuyen san giai" (Man Hunting) impressed the jury and audience as did her compelling narration and humor.

The comedy is about two women in different stages of life, a woman of middle age and her daughter in her 20s, both craving love. They try everything they can to win the heart of the man of their dream, including consulting a fortune teller.

"I’m sure almost every Vietnamese in this room has met a fortune teller in their life," Linh, who came on stage wearing the same clothes her characters would wear, told a laughing audience, implying how her movie would resonate with many people who do this to find a partner.

Linh’s story is universal, about mothers, Stephen Jenner, MPA’s vice president of communications in the Asia Pacific Region and one of the judges, said.

He told VnExpress International: "She was very capable, very confident, also she’s very open to feedback, which is important. Whoever goes out to the world with an idea has to be flexible enough to work with others about their idea."

"I’m so happy, I’ve never won any prize like this before," an elated Linh said. "The script is still under development. I plan for it to be released in 3-5 years."

She did not want to reveal which film festivals she plans to send Man Hunting to. Linh studied films in Singapore and is currently living there as a freelance filmmaker. Her previous short films have been well received by both audiences and critics in Vietnam. One of her works, Mother, Daughter, Dreams, was entered in the 2018 Busan International Film Festival in Korea.

Pitching movie proposals, especially in a formal setting like this event, is not yet common practice in Vietnam.

But that did not seem to deter the seven teams that made a pitch that day, according to the judges.

Quynh Ha, a producer at CJ HK Entertainment and a judge, was pleased with the presentations and praised them for managing to convey complex scripts within six minutes.

Award-winning Australian film producer Marcus Gillezeau, also a judged, concurred with her.

"The pitches today were absolutely fantastic. I’ve been to pitches in Australia, Thailand, the U.S., and the efforts everybody put in today, the quality they showed, and, especially, that they did so in a second language, was pretty impressive," he said.

All the scripts were heavily based on and inspired by Vietnamese culture and life.

But when asked if this would be a challenge to viewers, Gillezeau said all the stories narrated that day - about love, loss, finding themselves in an unfamiliar environment - are familiar in any culture.

People elsewhere understand Southeast Asian culture now, which would enable them to savor the distinct cultural elements in Vietnamese movies, he said.

Jenner said: "We just started rolling out this workshop in Southeast Asia. For years we only have been doing this in big, well-established filmmaking countries like China, South Korea, Japan. And interestingly, they face exactly the same challenges as the filmmakers in Vietnam. They never stood up and talked about their films [like this]."

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