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‘The Third Wife’ producer fined $2,100 after film pulled from Vietnam cinemas

Saturday, May 25, 2019, 18:04 GMT+7
‘The Third Wife’ producer fined $2,100 after film pulled from Vietnam cinemas
A scene from Vietnamese independent film ‘The Third Wife’.

The production company behind Vietnamese independent film The Third Wife has been slapped with a VND50 million (US$2,100) fine for showing a different version of the film than what was approved for screening by Vietnamese authorities.

The Third Wife, directed by Vietnam’s Ash Mayfair, sets in 19th century rural Vietnam and revolves around a 14-year-old girl is married into a wealthy family to be the third wife of a powerful landowner.

The independent film had been commercially shown in 28 countries and territories since its international debut in 2016 before making its way to Vietnamese theaters on May 17.

On May 20, the producer of The Third Wife announced that it would pull the film from all domestic cinemas following controversy over its employment of a 13-year-old actress to play the titular character, who engages in on-screen sexual intercourse with her husband.

A review of the film’s licensing was launched by Vietnam Cinema Department the same day.

In its report submitted to the culture ministry on Friday, the department said it had reviewed the film three times before granting it a screening permit in Vietnam.

Edits and cuts were asked to be made to The Third Wife to make the film suitable for Vietnamese audience with respect to traditional moral concepts and the law, the cinema department said.

However, the department said it only recently found out that the version of the film screened in cinemas was different from the one it had approved.

Vietnamese actress Nguyen Phuong Tra My plays the lead character in ‘The Third Wife’.
Vietnamese actress Nguyen Phuong Tra My plays the lead character in ‘The Third Wife’.

The film’s producer has admitted to the violation and taken their own initiative to pull the film from domestic cinemas, Vietnam Cinema Department said.

The $2,100 fine for its violation was issued on Friday at a meeting with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The ministry also weighed in on the child actress controversy surrounding the movie, saying that in ethical terms and “fine customs” of Vietnam, the use of a 13-year-old actress to play “sensitive scenes” is “inappropriate” and “not allowed”.

The Third Wife has won several awards including Best Asian Film at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

It is praised for tackling injustice faced by Vietnamese women in the past and other outdated customs such as arranged child marriage, gender prejudice and polygamy.

Critics also praise the performance by lead actress Nguyen Phuong Tra My despite concerns for her age.

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