Co Ba Sai Gon (The Tailor), a 2017 Vietnamese film about an aspiring tailor’s journey to embrace the beauty of the ao dai, Vietnam’s traditional costume, has been selected as the country’s only entry for next year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Vietnam Cinema Department announced on Wednesday that it had designated Co Ba Sai Gon as Vietnam’s official submission to the 91st Academy Awards, competing in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Co Ba Sai Gon follows its female protagonist Nhu Y, the only heir to the most famous ao dai tailor house in 1970s Saigon, as she discovers her love for the traditional dress after an unexpected time-travelling incident where she encountered her future self.
The movie premiered internationally at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival on October 14, 2017 in South Korea, before the official release in Vietnam on November 10 the same year.
The film became an instant box office hit domestically, earning more than VND60 billion (US$2.5 million) in theatrical revenue after one month.
However, it received mixed reviews from viewers and critics, who praised the film for its focus on Vietnam's traditional values but criticized the theme’s on-screen delivery.
At the 2017 Vietnam Film Festival in Da Nang, co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Vietnam Cinema Department, Co Ba Sai Gon won two awards, including a judges’ choice award.
In April this year, the film also won the top award for best feature-length film at the 2018 Golden Kites Awards held by the Vietnam Cinema Association.
The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film is one of the awards handed out annually by the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to a feature-length motion picture produced outside the U.S. with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.
Each country is eligible to submit only one film, released between October 1 and September 30 of each calendar year.
Members of the Academy will vote to select five nominees for the award, the winner of which will be announced during a televised broadcast on February 24, 2019.
Until now, the only Vietnamese entry to have been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at an Oscars is Mui Du Du Xanh (The Scent of Green Papaya), a 1993 film by Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung.
In other news, two Vietnamese movies, Song Lang and Thang Nam Ruc Ro, have been selected for Opening International Premiere at the 2018 Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF).
The films will compete in the Asian Future and Crosscut Asia categories, respectively.
Song Lang revolves around two strangers who are connected through their common passion for cai luong, a form of modern folk opera in Vietnam, while Thang Nam Ruc Ro is a story of friendship and adulthood among a group of high school classmates.
The 2018 TIFF will run from October 25 to November 3 in Tokyo, with the participation of more than 1,800 films from 109 countries.