Audiences have flocked to the screenings of several Vietnamese films, particularly those highlighted at international festivals, at the 3rd Hanoi International Film Festival (HANIFF).
The halls of the capital’s Thang Tam (August) Cinema and National Cinema Center (NCC) were packed with viewers when ten Vietnamese films were screened from Sunday to Tuesday.
Tickets to the film screenings were handed out for free and are not for sale.
Almost 100 people who were unable to get free tickets for “Dap Canh Giua Khong Trung” (Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere) shown at the NCC, at 87 Lang Ha, Ba Dinh District on Tuesday at 1:45 pm insisted that they be allowed to take supplementary seats or even sit on the floor or stand along the aisles.
The critically acclaimed film from director Nguyen Hoang Diep won the Best Film category at the Venice International Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week, a program for debut films, in September this year.
The film, produced by VBlock Media, a local company, in coordination with French, German, and Norwegian partners, was also screened at the 2014 Cannes International Film Festival and competed at several other international film fests this year.
During the Tuesday screening, Diep herself arranged the seats and made sure elderly audience members all had one.
Thanh Duy, one of the film’s leading actors, offered his seat to an audience member and stood during the 99-minute screening.
The film did not let the audiences down.
Most viewers marveled at the director’s rich poetic language, the film’s gorgeous cinematography, and its spellbinding storyline.
No one left after giving thunderous applause at the end of the film. They all lingered to watch its long end-of-film introduction.
A friend of a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter said the film’s first screening on Monday at 10:00 am was even more “terrific,” as the small room could hardly seat the crowd, with the number of standing audience members doubling those sitting down.
The screening of “Nhung Dua Con Cua Lang” at the NCC on Monday at 4:00 pm was also packed.
Though they had tickets, the Tuoi Tre reporter and several others had to sit on supplementary seats while many others stood in the aisles.
Free tickets were handed out only one day before each screening, and many did not mind the trouble and patiently waited for their turn.
As the reporter observed, around a hundred people queued up at the NCC on Monday afternoon to obtain tickets.
After the long wait, several were disappointed to learn the tickets had run out.
The ticket distributing staffers told those with no tickets to come the following day, as they would offer supplementary seats.
Other venues where the films were shown during the HANIFF were also crowded with people who came to watch them and receive free tickets for the screenings the following day.
Ngo Thi Phuong Lien, a department chief of state-run Hanoi Film Co., expressed her delightful surprise that the screenings of Vietnamese films on Monday and Tuesday were as packed as those on Sunday.
According to expat director Nguyen Vo Nghiem Minh, who directed “Nuoc” (2030) which is another internationally-acclaimed film screened during the HANIFF – which wraps up today – the Vietnamese films appealed greatly to local audiences during their debut in their own country.
As the films are more artistic than commercial and will most likely not hit local cinemas, most viewers grabbed this opportunity to watch them, added Minh, who is also behind the internationally-lauded film “Mua Len Trau” (Buffalo Boy).
Most viewers chose Vietnamese films, including such commercially successful flicks as “Am Muu Giay Got Nhon” (How to Fight in Six Inch Heels), “Than Tuong” (The Talents), and “Qua Tim Mau” (Vengeful Heart) as well as critically acclaimed films which made their debut in Vietnam, including “Nuoc” (2030).
Many expressed regret when the free tickets for their favorite flicks ran out.
While audiences enthusiastically embraced local films, their reception of foreign ones, such as Thailand’s “Isthmus,” Indonesia’s “Soekarno”, New Zealand’s “Shopping”, and the U.K.’s “Philomena,” was lukewarm.
The halls at Korean-invested CGV cinemas were only half full during the screenings of the foreign films. However, many audience members complained about the organizer’s discontinuous, troublesome free ticket distribution, as they had to come one day earlier for tickets to their desired films.
Held by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, HANIFF is running in several places in the capital city. Four hundred and eleven films were submitted to the organizer for the festival but only 130 flicks from 32 countries and territories have been chosen.
The biennial festival also features films from countries and territories with highly developed movie industries, including China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Germany, France, the U.K., and the U.S.
According to the organizer, this year’s festival has three categories: full-length movies, short films, and those belonging to the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC).
In the twenty years since it was founded, NETPAC has become established as the leading platform for the discovery and promotion of Asian cinema, according to its website.
Other highlights of the 2014 HANIFF include workshops on the partaking countries’ movie industries, a creation camp, and a project market.
The outstanding projects picked at the project market, which is being held for the first time at the festival, will join major international events including the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals.
The jury boasts celebrated international filmmakers along with veteran Vietnamese directors and actors.
The winner of the highest award will pocket US$5,000, the organizer said.
The festival’s closing is set to take place at the Huu Nghi Culture Center, at 91 Tran Hung Dao Street in Hoan Kiem District, at 8:00 pm tonight and will be aired live on television channels VTV1 and VTV4.