Interviews

CineMart catch-up: Viêt and Nam

29 January 2022

Concept: Viêt and Nam

Truong Minh Quý updates IFFR Pro on his project Viêt and Nam which won the IFFR 2021 Young Film Critics Award (€2,500), given to the project that the critics participating on IFFR's training programme most wanted to see go into production, based on the CineMart and Boost NL Spotlight presentations and pitch videos. A year on, with CineMart Spotlight 2022 due to take place on Sunday 30 January, we thought it was the perfect moment to see where some of last year's projects ended up.

Viêt and Nam will be centered on the love story of the two main characters – both miners. “The figure of the miner, like that of the policeman, embodies a violent archetype of masculinity; love between miners inevitably expresses an underground resistance,” director Quý explained during his 2021 CineMart pitch. 

"Like a fish, he swims in the currents of history"

“I’ve always wondered about the ways in which an individual could intimately be connected to history, even without being aware of it,” he added. “I imagine a young man living through uncanny events; like a fish, he swims in the currents of history, where past, present and future have merged into one – this is the premise of this film, Viêt and Nam.

I envision Viêt and Nam as a film about the intimate connections between an individual and an unresolved history, between reality and its reverberation: hope, between genders – homosexuality, here and there...”

The Young Film Critics jury noted how, “through its poetic visual sensibility, this project provides an opportunity to reclaim love and memory as integral parts of an emancipation process; a path for contemporary identities to resurface from dark and dirt-ridden coal mines into a brighter future.”

“CineMart and the Hubert Bals Fund were really a starting point"

So how does Quý reflect on his experience at IFFR 2021, and does he believe that co-pro is, at least from his perspective, the most efficient method for raising production finance?

“CineMart and the Hubert Bals Fund were really a starting point for my project. With my two producers Bradley Liew and Bianca Balbuena, we participated in the first ever online CineMart. It turned out to be more fun than we thought, and in some ways, more efficient than face-to-face meetings in terms of saving time,” he responds. “As this was our first market, it was useful to get feedback from the industry. After CineMart, we participated in other markets like L'Atelier Cannes and Gotham.” 

“International co-production is very necessary for an independent filmmaker to make a film in Vietnam as there is no public funding in the country. We have found most of the partners (total budget: €795,615) and we hope to be able to shoot by the end of this year.”

"This film is my personal response to the ambiguous history of the country"

Back in 2021 he further explained both his and the film’s rationale. “Viêt and Nam is a continuation in the spirit of my previous films: home,” Quý commented. “If, in my previous films, the protagonists return home, then in this film Nam, the main character, aspires to leave home. Being homeless may not be about having nowhere to go, but about having nowhere to return to. Nam is homeless even while he is still in his home. This film is my personal response to the ambiguous history of the country. In its essence, Viêt and Nam is a love story — a love story haunted by the ghost of (the) History.”

Where will the film shoot and how does Quý assess the problems he may face when it comes to release, especially in Vietnam?

“We plan to shoot mainly in Vietnam, with the Philippines as an option for specific scenes. It will be challenging but surely it's possible,” he responds. “As far as release is concerned, only ‘interesting’ films have had problems with distribution in Vietnam. This is a paradox of the system. And of course I would like to make an ‘interesting’ film.”

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