Film about a woman defying her fate takes UNDP award

By Pham Van, Lam LeMarch 9, 2016 | 11:53 pm PT
A short film challenging stereotypes about women born in the year of the tiger wins first prize at the UNDP's #HowAbnormal campaign short film competition. 

Winners of #HowAbnormal film competition on stage at the ceremony in Hanoi on March 4, 2016. Photo by UNDP

The competition was launched in December 2015 as part of the #HowAbnormal campaign to challenge negative gender stereotypes and promote equality in the workplace, home and public spheres.

The winner, “I love you mum” by Nguyen Phuong Phi, tells the story of the struggles of a woman born in the year of the tiger through the lens of her daughter.

“My favorite animal is a tiger,” says the daughter in a class discussion, to the total astonishment of the schoolmates. The film goes on to depict how the girl's mother battles against sexism based on popular beliefs in the Vietnamese horoscope.

It is widely believed in Vietnam that women born in the year of the tiger are destined for a tough life. Men are told to avoid marrying them or risk a premature death. While men born in the same year are accorded great prestige, women are condemned for supposedly being too dominating and controlling.

The Vietnamese zodiac is very similar to its better known Chinese cousin. Each year in a 12-year cycle is assigned a particular animal, with each having distinctive characteristics. It is commonly the basis for people to make important life decisions, including who to marry and when to have children.

Phi said the inspiration behind the film was a friend in a smilar situation who had endured a lot of hardship. He hopes the film will inspire women born in the year of the tiger to break free of this stereotype.

“Every woman should be a tigeresse,” said Dr Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam.

In her speech, Dr Mehta said stereotypes can confine women and men to certain ways of being, to hold specific careers and positions. UNDP statistics show few women achieve senior government positions. Only nine percent of ministers, eight percent of vice ministers and seven percent of general directors are women.

Through #HowAbnormal, UNDP hopes the public will rethink practices considered normal which are actually abnormal and take action to break negative gender norms.

Themes explored by the nine shortlisted films included the expectation for women to sacrifice their career for family, bike repair as a job only for men and the preference for sons.

The campaign will show the films and a series of new videos depicting situations where traditional gender roles are inverted at universities across Vietnam.

#HowAbnormal is part of an effort to support the world’s commitment to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030 under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The complete list of winners:

First prize: “I love you mum” by Nguyen Phuong Phi

Second prize: “Let me help you, dad” by Ngo Thi Trang

Third prize: “Isolated” by Arch Media

Public Choice award: “Sorry, my kid” by Vo Thi Ngoc Diem

Best screenplay: “The Magic from the Scarf” by Nguyen Thi Hong Quyen

Best actor/actress: Vu Hoang Linh Chi in “I love you mum”

The winning films can be viewed here.

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