Phan Dang Di tours three international film festivals

Published: 03/11/2008 05:00



VietNamNet Bridge – One year ago, Phan Dang Di was an unknown name, but in 2008, this young director was invited to three popular international film festivals, Cannes, Berlin and Venice, to present “Bi, don’t be afraid!” VietNamNet talked with Di.

Bi, don’t be afraid!
VietNamNet Bridge – One year ago, Phan Dang Di was an unknown name, but in 2008, this young director was invited to three popular international film festivals, Cannes, Berlin and Venice. VietNamNet talked with Di.

The World Cinema Fund of the Berlin Film Festival agreed to grant Eur50,000 for your movie “Bi, don’t be afraid!” How did you persuade them to invest in your project?

Actually, Eur50,000 is not a very big sum of money, but more important is the prestige of the Berlin Festival. The selection process of movie projects for the grant was very strict. This year the organizers received 108 projects from 33 countries, and they selected only three, all of which were from Southeast Asia.

Director Phan Dang Di
At the Cannes Film Festival this May, I participated in L’Atelier, a forum for young film producers. Though “Bi, don’t be afraid!” did not receive any investment from L’Atelier, they helped me to meet other investors. I met with a representative of the World Cinema Fund there.

At that time they had not yet read through my script, but had a brief introduction of the project. I gave them the files of the “Bi, don’t be afraid” project.

After that meeting, I had a good feeling about the success of this project, and the project was approved in June.

Previously, my script entitled “Lonely” received a grant of more than Eur150,000 from France’s Fond Sud. I think the most important thing is that the script must convince readers through a special style of storytelling.

You might have your own “trick” to persuade such reputed agencies to invest in your project, don’t you?

In terms of using “tricks” I cannot do better than film producers from other countries because Vietnamese film producers are not familiar with bringing their projects to famous film festivals around the world.

The most important thing is my love for my projects and the way I tell the story. Moreover, project files must include portraits of actors and clear backgrounds. One more thing, it is necessary to have film distributor in Vietnam prove the project’s feasibility. Specifically, I have cooperated with BHD and Chanh Phuong for distribution.

What is special about your script? It is said that Vietnamese films need Vietnamese characteristics to be able to go abroad, but is that enough to make the difference?

Certainly, each country has its own characteristics, but we should not try to seek them. There is one thing that all cultures can share – human’s innermost feelings, which anybody can understand, despite the factors of customs and nationhood.

“Bi, don’t be afraid!” is a story about family, about women’s longtime suffering and high-minded senses, men’s pleasures and their latent fears, and children’s innocence in the adult world of mystery and concealment. All of these things live together. The old will die, while children will grow up, but the hope is still there. They accept to compromise in order to continue living. All these elements give it that special quality.

When will the movie be shot?

I plan to start shooting this film in July 2009 in Hanoi. We have chosen some of the lead actors. I will meet with others to select the remaining actors.

Do you think that Vietnamese young movie producers hesitate to bring their projects to international film festivals because of an inferiority complex?

I don’t think so. Vietnam is rich with stories and feelings, and it has many charming and lovely things. There are many things to put into movies. They are our experiences and daily stories. Let’s make movies from normal stories that we believe are good to persuade others that they are good.

Phan Dang Di took part in the World Young Script Writers’ Festival in Townsville, Australia in 2003. “When I’m 20,” with Di’s script and direction, is one of the 18 films entered the regional round for short-films at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. This is the first Vietnamese movie entering this round.

“Bi, don’t be afraid” is the first feature film written and directed by Di. This project won the “Outstanding Project of Asia” award at the Pusan Film Festival in South Korea in October 2007. It was invited to take part in the L’Atelier forum at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2008. Recently, it received Eur50,000 grant for production from the World Cinema Fund of the Berlin Film Festival.

Bich Hanh

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