After the Golden Kite

May 8, 2007

 
13:08′ 07/05/2007 (GMT+7)

Announcing the winner of the Golden Kite for best feature film
Announcing the winner of the Golden Kite for best feature film

VietNamNet Bridge – This year’s Golden Kite Awards has been wrapped up in controversy.

An unprecedented choice

The jury of this year’s Golden Kite brought a surprise to audience members and Vietnamese filmmakers: awarding prizes to films regardless of their “citizenship.”

Two of the most important titles, best leading actress and best feature film went to a joint product of Vietnamese and Chinese filmmakers, Hanoi, Hanoi (Hanoi, Hanoi shared the Golden Kite for best movie with a 100% Vietnamese film, White Silk Dress).

In the time of government subsidies, all films produced with foreign partners were tacitly considered products too heavy in political and cultural exchange contents to have high artistic and commercial values.

Later, when foreign filmmakers came to Vietnam to make “true” films like Indochina or the Quiet American, the role of Vietnamese producers in these joint-ventures was marginal. Vietnamese actors also played subsidiary roles which served only to give the films a foreign and exotic feel of Vietnam to attract foreign viewers.

A member of the 2004 Vietnam Film Festival’s jury once said that awarding films co-produced with foreign partners would be unfair to Vietnamese products since joint films were too heavily invested in not to be superior.

All of these reasons have led to an “unwritten law” that films with “foreign elements” are unlikely to receive domestic prizes. This law, however, was violated in this year’s Golden Kite, which paves the way for an award-winning prospect of joint-venture movies.

Controversy

Another surprise happened in the award night when two films, Hanoi, Hanoi and the White Silk Dress were both awarded the Golden Kite for best feature movie.

According to an insider, even representatives of VTV, one of the organizers of the award ceremony, like reporter Lai Van Sam, couldn’t help asking, “What does this mean? At worst, there could have been two Silver Kites. Why two Golden Kites now?”

The reason that two films shared the most important Golden Kite was surprising is that movies contesting in this year’s Golden Kite Awards were considered inferior to those in last year’s contest.

Director Ho Quang Minh, a member of the jury, said he was “completely taken by surprise” by the announcement.

“The decision to award the highest prize to two contestants is a very important decision, especially in international film festivals. Besides, this year’s contestants weren’t that good:” said director Minh.

“I remember our votes in the afternoon of May 4. We all agreed that 5 votes would be cast for Hanoi, Hanoi and 4 for the White Silk Dress. I thought that this year’s jury was brave and good enough to choose only one truly good film. It was cowardly to award two Golden Kites for best movie. They must have made their own decision regardless of what the jury said,” he added.

Musician Phu Quang, another jury member, said: “I was amazed at first, but later I understood: prizes and contests and exams in Vietnam are like that. On the afternoon before the award night, a jury member told me, ‘What if our votes are falsified?’”

“So right from the beginning, Ho Quang Minh and I asked the organizers, ‘How much decision-making power will we have?’ and the answered was that ‘Of course, you’ll have absolute power.’ We asked whether it was likely that the jury’s decision would be disregarded, and again, the answer was no.”

Head of the jury, Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat, was quoted by a newspaper on May 6 as saying: “The Golden Kite for two feature films was the decision of the jury and of course it was reached in a fair manner.”

“The jury members voted secretly, and only the chairman of the Vietnam Cinema Association was authorized to open the votes. Of the 9 secret votes, 4 were cast for each of the two winners and 1 was for a third nominee,” added Ms Ngat.

She later told Tien Phong newspaper that this result was imparted to her by Chairman Tran Luan Kim himself. She herself was also surprised.

People’s Artist Minh Chau, a jury member, said: “When voting, I work fairly. As for the final decision, only God knows how it will turn out!”

Though jury members were disgruntled with the result, the White Silk Dress’ producer, Phuoc Sang Film was perfectly happy. Head of the company said: “I was glad and not very surprised with the result. All of these years, private films have been treated unfairly, and we couldn’t say anything to protest. But the truth is always true, and true values live on.”

For the first time in the history of the Golden Kite, private production companies didn’t have to stand on the sideline watching state-owned studios receive prizes and hearing such comments as “private films are commercial and cheap.” Thus, when asked about this year’s awards, they had something optimistic and confident to say.

“From the angle of a producer, I think the number and quality of this year’s contestants truly reflect the current state of Vietnamese cinema. Of course, seven contestants are a very small number, but we can’t ask for more, given what Vietnamese cinema is now. I think recent works such as the White Silk Dress and the Rebel are the pride of producers like me. Vietnamese cinema can be said to be taking flight,” said producer of the White Silk Dress, Phuoc Sang.

(Source: Tuoi Tre, Tien Phong, VietNamNet)

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