Director Nguyen Hoang Diep: Young filmmakers possess extremely diverse voices

Tuesday, 2020-09-29 11:04:17
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The film “May nhung khong mua” (Live In Cloud Cuckoo Land) wil compete for Orizzonti Short Competition category at the 2020 Venice International Film Festival.
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NDO - There is a generation of very young independent filmmakers who are silently making films, participating in leading prestigious cinematic festivals around the world and earning important awards.

Under the perspective of director Nguyen Hoang Diep, who has always enthusiastically supported and cherished the seeds of the “seventh art”, they will become the core production force for cinema in Vietnam within the next five years.

As the advantage is also the impediment

Q: I repeated the word "silently" again and again because the public has very little information about them. As a person accompanying young cinematic enthusiasts in many courses and short film competition, could you outline a few defining features on this generation?

A: Right before this interview, I have just met with the crew of the film “Bo cua bo” (Dad’s Father) by young director Cao Viet Hoai Son. The project has received funding from the Southeast Asian Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS) (at Singapore International Film Festival) and was listed in top ten short film project CJ 2019. It was also the next film I joined as a producer. Various obstacles over the past time have caused Son to consider and even intended to give up. Without the companionship and support from colleagues, he might give up. I also heard Thao Ho’s concerns about her dissatisfaction with the colour grading in her short film “Duong cao toc” (The expressway).

In my eyes, Son or Thao are the faces representing the generation of young independent filmmakers that you talked about. They are rich in energy and ideas. Thanks to the young age, they dare to try in many different approaches and boldly accept only a little success with a lot of failures. Rarely have they been discouraged and disappointed. However, the exceedingly long journey to realising their dreams has gradually eroded their optimism and confidence, making many of them feel tired and hesitate. The concerns about filmmaking money still exist but they are no longer a life-and-loss story like us before.

Q: In your analysis, it seems that there is a difference between the generations as well as between the names from the decades ago and today’s young people?

A: Currently, the number of independent filmmakers is increasing. The art playgrounds for them are also more, from online platforms to workshops, from domestic and foreign film festivals to crowded film markets. The cooperation between Vietnamese young filmmakers and international friends, international film festival, creation campaigns, cultural support funding and producers has become popular, with an international film production systems and processes. It can be said that today's generation of filmmakers has merged with the global flow. Instead of fumbling like us before, they have joined hands together to create a good enough information network to share their experiences and discuss together about moves to take their works beyond the borders such that the recognitions from the large playgrounds can create favourable conditions for them to develop long film projects in the future.

Compared with our generation, they have more opportunities to learn, exchange and practice the arts. However, the great opportunities are being divided into small and trivial ones. The advantages have also become difficulties. In the past, we had only a path to follow and a target to achieve. We devoted all our creative energy and concentration to realising paper projects into a finished work. Meanwhile, the movement of today’s market has created the quietly large impacts. As music videos, web-drama and viral become a trend, young directors have more opportunities to earn a living and pursue the profession with a variety of works related to images. Once they have chosen this arduous path of making independent films, they must be determined to devote their efforts and minds to them.

Director Nguyen Hoang Diep

Healthy seeds

Q: Looking at the outstanding faces of the generation of young independent filmmakers, I saw that most of them have been detected and supported by short-term intensive training courses such as “Gap go mua thu” (Autumn Meeting) and “Hanoi mua xuan” (Hanoi Spring) as well as short film competitions (such as the CJ short film making project) during the first difficult step. What are your thoughts on this?

A: Autumn Meeting”, which is an annual non-profit cinematic event held by director Phan Dang Di and producer Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, has taken a seven-year journey to become a prestigious brand. “Hanoi Spring” is a creation campaign which is organised by me with the valuable support from the Denmark-Vietnam Cultural Development and Exchange Fund (CDEF). This is the initial meeting and presentation place of independent filmmakers with their first works such as Le Binh Giang (KFC), Tran Dung Thanh Huy (Rom), Le Bao (flavour), Ta Nguyen Hiep (he upcoming movie “Monster’s Heart”) and Vo Thach Thao (The lonely fish).

CJ Short Film Making Project, for which I am a member of the advisory board, has become a launch pad for Vietnamese short films to be included in the official competition list at the world's leading international film festivals. For example, the movie “May nhung khong mua” (Live In Cloud Cuckoo Land) by Vu Minh Nghia and Pham Hoang Minh Thy competed in the Orizzonti Short Competition category at the 2020 Venice International Film Festival; the film “Mot khu dat tot” (Blessed Land) by Pham Ngoc Lan competed for the Golden Bear award at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival; “Hay thuc tinh va san sang” (Stay Awake, Be Ready) by Pham Thien An won the Illy award for Director Fortnight category at the 2019 Cannes International Film Festival; and “Ngot, man” (Sweet, Salty) by Duong Dieu Linh was honoured as the best short film as voted by young critics at the 2019 Singapore International Film Festival.

This year, the movies “Thien duong goi ten” (A trip to Heaven), “Dong song khong nhin thay” (The Unseen River) and “An act of Affection” competed in the international under 40-minute short film category at the Locarno International Film Festival. The other “sweet fruits” from the CJ Short Film Making Project second season, such as “Chung cu cua em” (My apartment) by Le Binh Giang, “Gi cung sua” (Fix anything) by Le Lam Vien and “Binh” by Pham Quoc Dung, will also participate in international playgrounds. Today’s achievements often come from the original fragments; however, the filmmakers of both previous and next generations have created a transmission that is smoothly and effectively operated.

Q: Where will the position of these healthy seeds be in the Vietnamese cinema flow in the future?

A: I can affirm that the young filmmakers today possess very diverse personal voices. That is also the reason why I often "shout" for the young people’s projects. Their personal voices should be detected, affirmed and respected.

In the future, the names that I have just mentioned will become the main production force. In the years to come, they will replace the outstanding faces of today. I believe so!

Thank you very much for your interview!