Message films struggle to bring in young audiences

June 13, 2006

 
17:06' 12/06/2006 (GMT+7)

Two films about war and ethnic minorities that have won major prizes and awards at a prestigious Vietnamese film festival have failed to draw young audiences to the cinema.

While the two films, Chuyen Cua Pao (Pao's Story) and Song Trong So Hai (Living in Fear), shared eight major prizes at the Canh Dieu Vang 2006 (Golden Kite) held annually by the Vietnam Cinematography Association, they could not survive in movie theatres, and have been replaced by other films.

Critics are blaming the themes of the two films, which failed to match the taste of Vietnamese youth who account for 90% of movie goers. Old topics and lack of special effects disappointed audiences.

Living in Fear, directed by Bui Thac Chuyen, is about a former Sai Gon regime soldier named Tai who lives on a former battlefield as a mine clearer to feed two wives and five children.

Pao's Story depicts the lives of remote ethnic Mong villagers and a young girl named Pao, played by actress Hai Yen, who was featured in the international hit The Quiet American, directed by Australian Philip Noyce.

The two young directors spent months in remote areas and worked under harsh weather conditions to make their first feature films convey the human suffering and misery in ordinary people.

Living in Fear was expected to be a break-through in the southern movie market with a young director at the helm, but it's turnover has failed to balance its marketing expenses.

Pao's Story was rejected by some theatres after earning only VND77mil (US$4,800) in one month at the National Cinema Centre in Hanoi. The busiest day at Thang Tam Cinema 100 tickets were sold for three shows – equal to 20% of its capacity.

A representative of Megastar Cineplex meanwhile said they would replace Pao's Story with De Muon (Hired Pregnancy) in hopes of gaining bigger audiences.

According to director Ho Quang Minh, not only in Vietnam but in many countries artistic films are less attractive to young audiences than commercial ones.

Young director Bui Tuan Dung of the Vietnam Feature Film Studio meanwhile said it was a high time to change Vietnamese traditional movie making.

"I hate copying reality. We used to make films that audiences could predict the ending to as soon as they began," he complained.

In addition, director Le Cung Bac said Vietnamese directors should learn from Chinese film makers who base many good films around one topic.

"The talent of filmmakers is obviously the most important aspect. Directors should feel free to use their creativity," Bac said.

Director of the National Cinema Centre Ha Vi Thuy said film studios should invest adequately in good scripts to create impressive visual and audible effects rather than invest equally.

(Source: Viet Nam News)

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