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HANIFF 2016: Impressions and expectations of a cinematic rendezvous

The fourth Hanoi International Film Festival (HANIFF) was held from November 1-5, honouring entrants who stood out among hundreds from around the world.

11/11/2016 09:54:00



Pham Ngoc Lan (third from left) honoured as the Best Young Director (under 30) of a Short Film at the closing ceremony in Hanoi on November 5

Although the festival has much work ahead if it is to realise its goal of “integrating Vietnamese films into the world market and bringing the world’s cinema closer to Vietnamese audiences,” this year’s event was quite impressive, as it was organised more professionally and attractively than previous editions.

A big film fest for cinema-lovers

The opening and closing ceremonies of the festival were well-organised, and they successfully depicted the current situation of Vietnam’s cinema while introducing the world’s cinema. The awards were distributed equally to entries from different continents, whose content was relevant to this year’s theme, “Cinema—Integration and Sustainable Development.”

The list of entries submitted to the organising board included major names from the cinemas of Canada, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and the Philippines. With an assortment of topics and styles of presentation, the entries invited audiences to experience different moods, from excitement and happiness to moving and haunting feelings.

The winner of the Best Feature Film Prize, the most important and sought after category, was Remember from Canada. The film also won veteran artist Christopher Plummer the Best Leading Actor Prize. The drama thriller won over the jury and audiences thanks to its tough script and the brilliant performance of the film cast. Earlier, the post-war revenge–themed film had won a slew of big prizes at many international film festivals.

Vietnamese cinema was represented in every category, with 29 flicks, including two full-length films, ten shorts and seventeen entries shown as part of programmes of Feature Films in World Panorama, Vietnamese Contemporary Films and ASEAN Films.

Two Vietnamese flicks titled Trung so (“Jackpot”) and Taxi, em ten gi? (“Taxi, What’s Your Name?”) won the People’s Choice Awards for Full-Length Film and for Vietnamese Entries, respectively.

Another Vietnamese entry, Toi thay hoa vang tren co xanh (“Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass”) directed by Victor Vu, bagged the Jury’s Special Mention for a Feature-Length Picture, which was seen as recognition of the position of Vietnam’s cinema. Notably, Pham Ngoc Lan was named the Best Young Director (under 30) of a Short Film: for his film Mot thanh pho khac ("Another City"), bringing much pride and inspiration to young filmmakers in Vietnam.

The 2016 festival’s side-line activities were expanded to include a Project Market, which introduced film projects with contemporary artistic values and high feasibility for release. Eight projects were up for judgement, and the first prize, worth VND100 million (US$4,480) went to One Summer Day directed by Zay Yar Aung from Myanmar.

A Talent Campus was also launched, offering three training programmes for directors, producers and scriptwriters under the instruction of international experts in the industry. The five-day event selected the Bloodline project by learner Nguyen Ha Le to attend the Berlin Film Festival, which is scheduled for February 2017.

In addition, the 2016 HANIFF took audiences and guests on a cinematic trip through 194 indoor and outdoor film screenings, attracting tens of thousands of city dwellers.

An advancement in organisation

Unlike its three previous events, this year’s HANIFF received entries from all around the world rather than only the Asia-Pacific Region. According to Ngo Phuong Lan, Head of the Cinema Department at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the organising board set higher criteria for submissions, which must have been recently released flicks with global recognition.

This year’s event also saw the largest number of guest artists, with the participation of nearly 1,200 delegates, including around 200 international delegates. Half of the guests were willing to pay travel costs to attend the event, which showed the higher attraction and prestige of the festival.

Prominent among the guests were director Régis Wargnier and actress Catherine Deneuve, two big names from Indochine, a 1992 film set in Vietnam which has won many prestigious prizes, including an Oscar for best foreign language film in 1993. Zinaida Kirienko, a veteran Russian actresses, starred in many famous films such as And Quiet Flows the Don (1957) and Fate of a Man (1959), was also on the guest list.

With the aim of introducing the world’s cinema to Vietnamese audiences, the organising board paid a significant amount of money to buy the copyright for I, Daniel Blake, a film which won the Palme d’Or prize and the special prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, to screen the film at the opening ceremony of the “Feature Films in World Panorama” programme. Vietnam’s cultural identity was also advertised to international guests in every activity of of the five-day festival.

Briccio Santos, President of Asian Cinema Fund, who has presented at the festival since its first year, shared that he was surprised at the growing development and reputation of HANIFF in the region, which has now attracted many foreign partners.

A film festival is not only a launch pad for cinematic works, but also an opportunity to advertise the host city and country. The HANIFF has a rich potential to become an outstanding name in the Asia-Pacific Region if it is accorded proper attention from managers to mobilise the vitality and creativity of those working in the industry.