[Việt Nam]Online International Workshop
Online International Workshop
“Vietnam Cinema Industry – Sustainable Development and International Competitiveness”
The workshop was organized on April 28th, 2021 in Ho Chi Minh City by the Vietnam Film Development Association (VFDA) and the Motion Picture Association (MPA). The goal was to help Vietnam learn from other countries’ experience of building film industry, answer questions related to protecting the interests of Vietnamese cinema as well as international filmmakers, and seek opportunities to cooperate with international filmmakers, particularly Hollywood studios.
The workshop was a product of the cooperation between VFDA and the MPA. Other involved parties include the Institute of Languages - International Studies (ILACS) under the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH) and Center for Digital Content Development and Production (VTV Digital), Vietnam Television. The workshop was chaired by Dr. Ngo Phuong Lan, Chairperson of VFDA and Ms. Belinda Lui, President of MPA Asia Pacific.
For Vietnamese filmmakers, the participation of American and international filmmakers, film activists at the event was an opportunity to exchange, learn from experiences and expand cooperation. The workshop also briefly introduced about the filmmaking environment in Vietnam, seeking to clear the roadblocks to future cooperation by providing more data to international filmmakers. MPA Asia Pacific President, Ms. Belinda Lui said that Vietnam is now having many opportunities to cooperate and show the world its rich culture through its films.
How will Vietnam’s film industry develop?
The content of the workshop deal with topics beneficial to Vietnamese cinema and international filmmakers: developing production capacity, filmmaking incentives, the importance of copyrights, solutions to existing problems and building a thriving, secure and sustainable film industry.
The workshop was structured into 3 sessions: “The filmmaker’s perspective”, “Thinking globally” and “Protecting what matters” with comments and speeches from both Vietnamese and international delegates.
In session 1 “The filmmaker’s point of view”, director – producer Charlie Nguyen gave his 3 points on how to make Vietnamese cinema develop: Firstly, tell original stories instead producing remakes; second, the local industry is in sore needs more pragmatic filmmaking training hubs; third, the need for a labor monitoring department to protect the interests of filmmakers and improve the quality of the profession (citing a story of crews working 17-18 hours/day). Director Charlie Nguyen also emphasized two urgent issues: the need for an independent service organization with the purpose of providing legal counsel, connecting international filmmakers with Vietnamese ones; and the need for a tax rebate policy for foreign film crews coming to Vietnam.
Director Phan Dang Di said “In order for Vietnamese cinema to be Vietnamese cinema and to be able to compete with international films, we must pay attention to content with rich Vietnamese identity”.
Mr. Nelson Mok, Director, Advisor of Film Group from Singapore, shared his experience of releasing Vietnamese films to international markets and affirmed: “For a Vietnamese film to be available internationally, first, it must be successful with domestic audiences.”.
In session 2 “Thinking globally”, Mr. Jay Roewe, Senior Vice President in charge of Production and Incentives of HBO/Warner Media emphasized the importance of cooperation between local cinema and international filmmakers; foreign filmmaker is most concerned with the incentives that the local government offer, such as the tax refund policy, as well as the local intellectual property protection policy and anti-piracy measures. Having been to Vietnam for Kong: Skull Island production and greatly impressed by the Vietnamese locations and people, Mr. Jay Roewe said “Vietnam is a sleeping giant. What Vietnam needs to do right now, aside from drafting incentive policies, is to pass the message “you are welcome here” to international filmmakers. You need to show openness in business before you can share your cultural and historical values. ”.
Mr. Freddie Yeo, CEO of Infinite Studios, a member of the film advisor of Singapore also thinks filmmaking incentives is the most important aside from relevant locations; and that the incentives must be professionally promoted by the government, a point he proved by showing a Singaporean promotional clip introducing its locations, people and culture as well as the opinions of various foreign film crews who had filmed there.
Director of International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Mrs. Nguyen Phuong Hoa emphasized three points for Vietnamese cinema go global: actively participate in prestigious international film festivals such as the Oscar, Cannes, Venice, Tokyo, Busan IFFs etc. to increase Vietnamese cinema’s exposure to international audience; release Vietnamese films more widely and work with online movie distribution systems such as Netflix; and to bring world cinema to Vietnam through domestic film festivals as well as to create better filmmaking cooperation policies.
The 3rd session “Protecting what matters” revolved around the most alarming issue: copyright. General Director of BHD Company Mrs. Ngo Thi Bich Hanh expressed her frustration with young audience livestreaming movies in theaters and the age-old habit of watching pirated movies in Vietnam. Film – a form intellectual property – is not being justly respected and protected, and the legal loopholes do not help: stealing a motorbike worth a few hundred dollars and you go to jail, but livestreaming a film worth millions of dollars and the highest penalty is only US$700.
Mr. Yew Kuin Cheah, Main Advisor, Anti-piracy – Digital Media at Walt Disney offers 3 solutions: Firstly, in the era of ever evolving technology, copyright laws along with civil and criminal penalties related to intellectual property & cinema must be regularly updated and amended to stay relevant; secondly, employing blocking measures to deal with pirated movie websites; and thirdly, a powerful law enforcement mechanism with enough blocking capabilities, coupled with severe infringement penalties.
As a representative of the state’s competent agency, Deputy Director of the Cinema Department Mrs. Ly Phuong Dung shared that in the near future the new (amended) Cinema Law will have many improvements in line with the current film situation to better serve the interest of the industry.
As a closing remark to the workshop, Chairwoman of the VFDA Dr. Ngo Phuong Lan expressed her appreciation for the comments and insights of international delegates. She affirmed the VFDA’s determination in contributing to solving the various problems of the local film industry, in order to build a solid foundation for Vietnam cinema to reach out to the world.
The event was the very first international online workshop in Vietnam on the development of the film industry, and as such managed to attract great attention from both the authority and the private sector. Present at the seminar were Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen The Ky, General Director of Voice of Vietnam (VOV); Associate Professor, Dr. Phan Thanh Binh, Former Chairman of Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children; Mrs. Hoang Thi Hoa, Vice Chairman of National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children; Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Representative of Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations; Mr. Nguyen Minh Nhut, Director of the Department of Culture and Arts, Central Propaganda Department; Mrs. Tran Phuong Lan, Deputy Director of the Department of Culture and Arts, Central Propaganda Department; Mrs. Nguyen Phuong Hoa, Director of International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Mrs. Ly Phuong Dung, Deputy Director of the Cinema Department, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Ms. Marie C. Damour, Consulate General of the United States of America in Ho Chi Minh City; Mr. Pham Tan Nghia, Strategic Partner of VFDA; Mr. Nguyen Hai Giang, Editor-in-chief of Vietnam – America Magazine; Mrs. Le Minh Tam – General Director of Bright Epoch JSC. There were also representatives of Ho Chi Minh City and Quang Ninh provincial authority.
Most of the local film industry’s active figures were present at the workshop, most notably: Director – People’s Artist Dao Ba Son; Assoc.Prof. Dr. Phan Bich Ha, Former Rector of Ho Chi Minh City University of Theater and Cinema; Mr. Phan Dinh Thanh, General Director of Movie Studio 1; playwright Chau Tho, Director of Senafilm firm; directors Charlie Nguyen, Phan Gia Nhat Linh, Nguyen Quang Dung, Phan Dang Di, Bui Thac Chuyen, producer Trinh Hoan, Dinh Thi Thanh Huong, screenwriter Kay Nguyen… Reporters from various newspapers and TV stations attended and reported on the event.