Hollywood filmmakers talk about Vietnamese cinema

May 9, 2007

16:29′ 08/05/2007 (GMT+7)

Lai Van Sinh and American filmmakers
Lai Van Sinh and American filmmakers

VietNamNet Bridge – A cinematic delegation with many famous names from Hollywood is visiting Vietnam during the first American Film Week ever to be organised in the country.

Head of Vietnam Bureau of Cinema Lai Van Sinh said that the Bureau as well as the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had worked very hard to invite directors Susannah Grant, Phil Robinson, Curtis Hanson, and producers William Horberg, Emmanuel Lubezki, Freida Lee Mock, and Tom Pollock to visit Vietnam from May 3-10.

Since their arrival on May 4, the delegation has had many things to say about Vietnam and Vietnamese cinema. The Quiet American’s producer William Horberg said he was very glad to be able to re-visit Vietnam and considered it a chance to enjoy Vietnamese sceneries.

Though at present, William Horberg doesn’t have any project about Vietnam, he is confident about the future partnership relationship with Vietnamese cinema. “Your country has many things that can attract filmmakers such as wonderful sceneries and architecture.”

“We can come here for any film project rather than just films about Vietnam. Our generation often chooses to talk about wars when making films about Vietnam, but later generations may find many fresher and more interesting topics,” said Horberg.

Tom Pollock, a former chairman of Universal Studios as well as the vice chairman of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has also talked with Tuoi Tre newspaper about this unprecedented event.

Vietnam is a very small cinema market. So is the purpose of your trip to explore market opportunities for American films, to search for investment partners or merely to engage in a cultural exchange?

Why is Vietnam a small cinema market? I’ve never heard anybody say that a country with the population of 80 million is a small market. Today the market may not be big, since there are still few people going to the cinema, few films and few theatres.

But in the near future, perhaps within 5 to 10 years, people will talk about Vietnamese cinema in the same way they’re now talking about Korean cinema.

What makes you believe so, given the fact the Vietnam is currently producing only 10 movies per year?

I’ve seen some Vietnamese movies screened at Vietnamese film festivals in the US. I’ve also been to Vietnam to talk with Vietnamese students and cinema artists. What I notice is that in Vietnam, fresh, youthful and daring ideas have been appearing among artists and students alike. This is the foundation for bringing Vietnamese movies closer to viewers.

I also know that in Vietnam, filmmakers have made films with government money, so they don’t have to pay attention to whether their movies will sell or who will watch them. But now that private producers are starting to invest in making films, they will have to think about profits and what viewers want. This is also the basic beginning of a big cinema market.

Investing in overseas projects is now quite popular in Hollywood because of lower expenses and exotic and beautiful sceneries. Does Universal have similar intentions regarding Vietnam?

This doesn’t just depend on us but on many sides. When deciding to invest somewhere, we don’t just pay attention to cheap labour or low expenses.

What’s more important is infrastructure and administrative procedures. From what I know, foreign filmmakers are quite tired of procedures in Vietnam. They have to ask permission for each shot and even have their scripts changed. But I hope that in the future, such things will be solved and we will have films made in our own studios in Vietnam.

(Source: Tuoi Tre)

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