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Vietnam International Film Festival (VNIFF) gets off to auspicious start

HANOI ~ Vietnam’s first ever major international film festival got underway today following a magnificent opening ceremony held in Hanoi’s National Convention Center and attended by an estimated 3,100 guests.

The timing of the festival coincides with the 1,000 year anniversary of the founding of the city of Hanoi in 1010, and the precise dates of VNIFF, 17 October to 22 October fall nicely between the end of Korea’s Phusan festival and the beginning of Japan’s Tokyo Film Festival next week.

Some 68 films of all genres and styles have been selected for screening in three multiplex venues across this sprawling ancient capital which is home to 6.5 million people.

Categories include: World Cinema Today, Vietnam Cinema Today, Main Competition, Country in Focus , and Tribute.

The Main Competition has a distinctly local flavor with all 10 entries coming from Asia and most of them from Southeast Asia, including one each from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and two from Vietnam. There are also entries from China, Hong Kong and Japan.

Main Competition Jury Head, Phillip Noyce, with his huge body frame, has already become a dominant feature of the festival landscape and he is apparently having problems getting into the cinema seats which are made for the regular sized Vietnamese who are tiny in comparison with the burly Australian.

The biggest category, with 24 films from 17 countries is World Cinema Today. Once again, Asia is taking the limelight with 14 entries, including three from China, three from Japan and two from Hong Kong. Vietnam’s traditional sources for foreign movies – Russia, India and Iran – are also represented.

The Short Film Section involves eight works, six of them from Vietnam – including three animated films – and one each from Cambodia and Indonesia. Even smaller is the Documentary category which has a total of four entries, one each from Thailand and Vietnam, and two from Japan.

The small number of entries has, however, not disappointed Juhani Alanen, executive director of Finland’s Tampere Film Festival, who told that he is highly encouraged by the number of entries from Vietnam.

Vietnam Cinema Today comprises an assortment of 13 films, but the greatest attention is being focused on a standalone entry, the premiere screening of Quang Binh’s new drama, “Floating Lives”. Unconfirmed rumors say that this was originally intended to be the opening film of the festival, but in fact, although it is featured prominently in the festival catalogue, it is being screened the day after the festival closes.

Another standalone work is the classic “Abandoned Field” by the late Hong Sen, considered by many to be the father of Vietnamese cinema.

Jeremy Colson's Blog.

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