Choi Voi wins Venice Festival Critics’ Prize

Published: 13/09/2009 05:00



Bui Thac Chuyen’s Choi Voi has won a prize at the Venice Film Festival. VNExpress interviewed Chuyen as he was about to fly to the Toronto Film Festival.

From the left: Do Hai Yen, Bui Thac Chuyen and Pham Linh Dan.

VNExpress: What did the jury, the audience and foreign colleagues say about your film?

Chuyen: Choi Voi was screened at the two largest theatres of the festival, with 1300 and 1700 seats each. Many audiences watched our movie. Afterwards, they surrounded us and clapped their hands warmly for a very long time. Some congratulated us and praised the movie. Among them were many filmmakers. Certainly, the jury never expressed their opinions.

VNE: The two leading actresses in Choi Voi, Pham Linh Dan and Do Hai Yen, joined with you in all activities in Venice. What could you say about your beautiful colleagues?

Chuyen: Each of us had a separate working schedule. Yen and Linh Dan were escorted by their families, So we were only together at the press conference and for taking photos. Many audiences praised them for their roles in Choi Voi. Actually, I was proud to stand beside two such beautiful women!

After watching the movie for the first time in Venice, Linh Dan told me that she was very happy to have made the film and she was willing to participate in my future projects. I think that is the biggest compliment.

VNE: What did the Choi Voi film crew do in Venice?

Chuyen: Choi Voi was screened three times, including an official show with red-carpet ceremony. We also had a press conference and some interviews. We spent a lot of time watching films and we will attend the closing ceremony.

I’m very happy to have seen my French friends, who gave some technical support to Choi Voi. We shared our memories of making the film together. Everybody was very happy to join in this project.

VNE: What do you think about the Venice Film Festival 2009?

Chuyen: Venice is the only world renowned film festival that doesn’t have a film market. It is a simple movie festival. Perhaps for that reason, Venice was not as eventful as other festivals.

According to the festival’s director, Marco Muller, this year’s festival attracted the highest number of participating countries. I didn’t have sufficient time to watch every movie, but all the films that I saw were very special.

From the left: Bui Thac Chuyen, Do Hai Yen, Pham Linh Dan and the Vietnamese Ambassador to Italy.

VNE: You complained about financial problems before going to Venice. . . .

Chuyen: This is an expensive tourist city. A cup of coffee can cost around thirteen Euros (350,000 dong). We had to limit our comforts as much as possible. I’m not ashamed of it, but I don’t want to boast about it either.

VNE: This is the first time a Vietnamese film has officially taken part in the Venice Film Festival. Will it open opportunities for other Vietnamese movies?

Chuyen: There will be no opportunity if the Vietnamese movie industry doesn’t try at its best to survive and develop. The goal of a film or any film industry is not to participate in festivals. Roger Garcia, a professional film festival organizer, explained that to Vietnamese filmmakers.

I am joyful that Vietnam has appeared on the world movie map, but we’re still only a dim spot. That’s all! It is not a door opening to the world. My short film entered the Cannes Film Festival 2000 and now, eight years later, I had a second short film chosen for Venice. We should not talk about opportunities, but the effort of each filmmaker.

What have you learned from this film festival?

Chuyen: Investment for this film was too low and we lacked time to prepare the copy and subtitles. In movies, any error can ruin the efforts of many people. We also have to gain experience in press conferences, meeting with the media, attracting audiences and other aspects.

Entertainment capitalists dominate big film festivals. They bring team of professional organizers to Venice to advertise their movies. This year Oliver Stone invited the Venezuelan President to Venice to advertise his documentary. So how could the film crew of a group who had to save two euros for drinking compete with these guys?

VNE: What is your plan to introduce Choi Voi in Vietnam and at the Toronto Film Festival?

From the left: Do Hai Yen, Bui Thac Chuyen and Pham Linh Dan.

Chuyen: Thien Ngan Company will distribute this film in Vietnam. I think this movie will be distributed in a completely new way in Vietnam because it has many sensitive features that are not suitable for mass audiences.

VNE: Some people fear that Choi Voi will not meet the requirements to join the Oscars for commercial screening. . . .

Chuyen: Oscars? I’m interested in how our film will be distributed globally. We have missed some opportunities, so we will have to exert ourselves to create a good life for it. It is joyful to walk on the red carpet, but is it necessary to think much about it? I know where I am now.

The Venice Film Festival 2009, the oldest film festival in the world, closed on September 12. Bui Thac Chuyen’s Choi Voi won the Fipresci Horizons And Critics’ Week Prize awarded by the International Film Critics’ Federation (Fipresci).

The Vietnamese film als competed in the Orizonti, a festival program of world premiere films giving an overview of new trends in cinema, but failed to receive any prizes.

The main Fipresci prize was awarded to Lourdres by Austrian director Jessica Hausner.

Fipresci is a 65-year-old organization which works to protect and encourage independent film production.

The Fipresci prize, awarded on the sidelines of international festivals, aims to promote cinematography and encourage new and young film directors and cinemas.

Choi Voi will premiere domestically later this year and take part in film festivals in Toronto, Vancouver and London


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