The June 28 seminar on developing the local film industry, after being held in the north, saw southern film makers urge the Motion Pictures Office to use a digitalized film screening device for censorship to cope with the global trend of digitalized films.
At the seminar on strategies to develop the local film industry by 2020 and plans for 2030, reports said that though local film industry revenues rose from US$2 million in 2000 to $47 million in 2012, development remains unequal in the state-owned and private sectors.
There are currently 97 cinema clusters with 246 screening rooms countrywide, including 72 state-owned clusters with 104 screening rooms which are dilapidated and poorly run.
With 25 clusters and 142 screening rooms, including sixteen 35-mm celluloid film screening rooms and 126 digitalized film rooms, the private sector, armed with state-of-the-art equipment, earns the most box-office revenue.
Ngo Phuong Lan, head of the Motion Pictures Office, stressed that the format of cinema movies needs to be switched from 35-mm celluloid to digital film to fit in with the global trend.
She cited the 10 Vietnamese films which were recently screened in Venice, Italy as an example. As the Italian organizer didn’t have a device to screen celluloid films, they asked the Vietnamese team to change the format of several of their films, which were produced seven or eight years ago, to digital.
“Megastar has to pay roughly US$42,000 just to change a digital movie, for instance, a Hollywood one, into celluloid to be censored by the Motion Pictures Office,” said Trinh Thanh Thinh, distributing director of Megastar, a local film distributor.
However, he pointed out that the main problem lies in the fact that American film makers will stop making celluloid films altogether by the end of the year.
“What will happen if the Motion Pictures Office keeps carrying out its censoring on celluloid only while big American studios don’t allow their films to be changed from digital or DVD for several reasons, including copyright issues? If this doesn’t change, starting in January 2014, many films won’t be distributed in Vietnam,” Thinh noted.
He added that he has twice requested the office to upgrade their censorship screening device over the past two years.
When the issue of state investment in the local film industry came up at the seminar, famed director Le Hoang suggested that funds go towards developing human resources, instead of purchasing costly equipment.
“With our limited number of films produced each year, the costly device will be a waste. Instead we should take our films to other countries, for example Thailand, where they do the job well for low fees. The thing that counts is that the State should send local filmmakers to other countries to improve their skills,” Hoang noted.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Da Nang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism called for dropping the unnecessary location shooting permit granting process.
According to Lan, state planning of the local film industry began in 1993, with the first draft released in 1995, but to limited success.
The office launched the new draft on strategies to improve the industry in 2012, and it is now collecting expert opinions before submitting a detailed draft to the government.
70% of local viewers don’t watch locally-made films
Statistics from the Motion Pictures Office showed that local films have accounted for only 13.38 % of screenings compared to foreign features over recent years.
At state-owned cinemas, local films make up 31.6% of screenings, while local viewers account for 40%. However, at private-owned cinemas, local film screenings account for a mere 34%, while up to 70% of viewers choose foreign films.
The elderly hardly go to the cinema. 61% of cinema goers are male, while only 39% are female.