Em Chua 18 (Jailbait), a Vietnamese teen comedy that tackles the themes of friendship, family and love, has won the Golden Lotus for Best Picture at the 20th Vietnam Film Festival in the central city of Da Nang.
Centered around a playboy who takes pride in being a womanizer, Jailbait tells the story of his transformation after he meets and, so he believes, sleeps with an underage high-schooler who is troubled by family problems.
Praised for its light-hearted approach to issues like alcohol and sex, as well as for the performances of its young cast, Jailbait has become a box-office hit, taking VND100 billion (US$4.41 million) in its first 11 days of release.
By the end of May, the movie overtook Hollywood blockbuster Kong: Skull Island to become the highest-grossing film of all time in Vietnamese cinemas, earning more than VND169 billion ($7.44 million) in ticket sales.
At the awards ceremony of the 20th Vietnam Film Festival (VFF) in Da Nang on Tuesday evening, the film was honored with its highest award to date – the Golden Lotus for Best Feature Film.
Lead actress Kaity Nguyen, who played the underage high-schooler in her acting debut, also won the night’s award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
|Em Chua 18 actress Kaity Nguyen receives the Best Actress prize.|
The success of Jailbait signifies a rise in the production value of commercial movies in Vietnam, with 2017 the first year the VFF didn’t feature any films from the public sector.
Established in 1970 and held every two or three years, the VFF is considered one of the most prestigious events in Vietnamese cinema with awards for categories ranging from feature film, direct-to-video and documentary film.
The awards were previously dominated by state-funded movies, which did place an emphasis on artistic value, but were essentially moral lessons and deemed out of touch with a general audience. As a result they had very limited screenings in state-run cinemas, and made very little profit.
This year, however, every nominee for the Golden Lotus award was a privately funded commercial film, the first time in the festival’s 47-year history that a state-funded film failed to make the prestigious awards.
|Winning directors receive prizes.|
Held from November 24 to 28, the 20th VFF was also the first time the awards ceremony honored films by directors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Vietnam hosted the 1st ASEAN Film Awards this year, before passing the honor to other ASEAN members.
Running with the theme, ‘Cinematography Connecting the ASEAN Community’, the awards are testament to the work of regional filmmakers and the inspiration they give newcomers to the industry.
The next VFF will the held in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau in 2019.
Below is the full list of winners from this year’s 20th Vietnam Film Festival:
- Golden Lotus for Best Feature Film: Em Chua 18 (Jailbait) by Le Thanh Son
- Silver Lotus: Cha Cong Con (Father and Son) by Luong Dinh Dung; Co Hau Gai (The Housemaid) by Derek Nguyen
- Jury’s Award: Co Ba Sai Gon (The Tailor) by Tran Buu Loc and Kay Nguyen; 12 Chom Sao: Ve Duong Cho Yeu Chay (Zodiac 12: First Steps of Love) by Stephen Gauger
- Best Director: Vu Ngoc Dang, Hotboy Noi Loan 2 (Lost in Paradise 2)
- Best Actress in a Leading Role: Kaity Nguyen, Em Chua 18 (Jailbait)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Ha Mi, Co Gai Den Tu Hom Qua (The Girl from Yesterday)
- Best Actor in a Leading Role: Quy Binh, Bao Gio Co Yeu Nhau (When Will We Love)
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Nhan Phuc Vinh, Dao Cua Dan Ngu Cu (The Way Station)
- Best Screenplay: Bui Kim Quy and Luong Dinh Dung, Cha Cong Con (Father and Son)
- Best Cinematography: Ly Thai Dung, Dao Cua Dan Ngu Cu (The Way Station)