Vietnam should ban films with 'law-breaking' themes: national defense committee

By Hoang Thuy   September 15, 2021 | 12:02 am PT
Vietnam should ban films with 'law-breaking' themes: national defense committee
A screen shot shows actor Viet Anh playing a character in the gangster world-depicting drama series "The Arbitrator".
A major general has proposed films that promote "law-breaking" behavior or themes of selfishness and unpunished crimes should be banned in Vietnam.

Major General Le Tan Toi, head of the National Defense and Security Committee of the legislative National Assembly, on Tuesday suggested the idea at a meeting regarding a draft of the Law on Cinematography, saying a particular term of the law should include such prohibitions.

Films with themes that promote unpunished crimes, people living selfishly and make it look too realistic, may influence movie watchers, derail their thinking and encourage them to replicate such behavior, he claimed.

He cited a popular drama series called "The Arbitrator" depicting the gangster world, saying after the series was broadcast and became a hit, "crime situations grew."

"The show is broadcast during peak hours, who would be responsible for this?" he said, adding the government may govern society with the law, yet in the fictional show, judgement is handled by a titular gangster character, which could even judge the police itself.

Toi said people and businesses should also be held responsible over the popularization of films on the Internet. They should be responsible for categorizing such films and be accountable for their decisions, especially on issues like national security or religion.

Nguyen Dac Vinh, head of the Culture and Education Committee, said the Standing Committee has requested lawmakers to specify exactly what should be banned regarding the cinematography law's term in question, adding a clause should be adjusted to reflect prohibitions towards the production, distribution and popularization of films that violate the law.

Vinh also proposed the inclusion of prohibiting illegal film recording and copying without approval from their owners, as well as banning theaters from leaking movies as they're being shown.

Nguyen Thi Thanh, head of the Department of Delegate Affairs, said the composition of a film approval committee also needs to be adjusted. The current draft of the cinematography law states two-thirds of a film approval committee should be experts and the rest, film evaluators.

Thanh said such a composition is not ideal and there should be more experts on films, politics, religion and national security and defense to filter out films that may affect "politics and security."

"The responsibility of film evaluators must be ascertained," she said.

Vuong Dinh Hue, chairman of the National Assembly, said the government should follow the examples of countries with developed film industries when it comes to policymaking, encouraging investment on film sets.

Cinema should be both a cultural and service industry that satisfies people's mentality and contribute to economic and social development. The Law on Cinematography should showcase films as a multi-discipline cultural field, and there needs to be filmmaking ecosystems and financial incentives to develop them, he added.

Thanh echoed Hue's statement, adding film sets should be developed when it comes to building a film industry. She said ministries and localities should cooperate to allow the construction of film studios and other facilities, and lawmakers for the cinematography law should also look into film festivals as a way to showcase Vietnamese culture, image, and people.

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