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First Vietnamese independent film to be screened at biggest French cinemas

By Nguyen Minh, Nhung Bui   April 18, 2016 | 03:10 pm GMT+7

“Mekong Stories” by director Phan Dang Di is the first Vietnamese independent film to be screened by Memento Films at big cinemas in France from April 20.

Every year, Memento Films, one of France's top arthouse film sales agencies, picks from eight to ten movies from around the world to distribute in France.

“Mekong Stories”, previously named as “Big Father, Small Father & Other Stories”, is going to be screened by Memento at big cinemas like MK2, Gaumont, Pathe and UCG.

The movie tells about experiences and challenges of three young people in Ho Chi Minh City in the 1990s, when Vietnam started to shift from a command economy to a market economy. It was filmed over 42 days, starring both famous and amateur actors, including Do Thi Hai Yen, Truong The Vinh and Le Cong Hoang.

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“Mekong Stories” is the first Vietnamese movie to compete for the Golden Bear Prize at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival last year. In November, the film won the Young Jury Prize at the Three – Continent Film Festival in Nantes, France.

Before its official release, the film received positive feedback from film critics in France. Newspaper Le Monde sees the film as "a beautiful portrait of dreamy young people" while cinema magazine Premiere and Positif said: "Director Phan Dang Di made his second film more complex, more ambitious and he seems to have mastered his film better".

The first movie of Di, “Bi, don’t be afraid”, was distributed in France in 2012, but the release was restricted to arthouse cinemas.

Although welcomed by France and more than 50 other countries, Di and his producer find it difficult to screen "Mekong Stories" in Vietnam due to the stiff competition from Hollywood’s blockbusters and other mainstream Vietnamese films.