Hanoi: A delegation of Hollywood film professionals arrived on 2May for the first “American Film Week” in Vietnam, where they will share their expertise with members of the nation’s small but fast-growing film industry.
The group of writers, directors, producers and cinematographers are members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the annual Oscars extravaganza.
They were invited by the Vietnam Cinema Department, part of Vietnam’s Communist government, which has recently begun easing its control over the content of Vietnamese films and allowing the development of privately produced movies.
“This is a very good opportunity for us to strengthen cooperation with the American film industry,” said Do Duy Anh, head of the department’s international relations division. “We will explore whether we can cooperate in film making and distribution.”
The US visitors will try to nurture aspiring filmmakers by sharing their expertise at a series of seminars and film screenings in Hanoi, the capital, and in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s southern business hub and the center of its entertainment industry.
Among them, the visitors have 14 Oscar nominations and two Oscars. They include Susannah Grant, writer and director of “Erin Brockovich,” Curtis Hanson, writer, director and producer of “L.A. Confidential,” William Horberg, producer of “The Quiet American,” Tom Pollock, executive producer of “Field of Dreams,” and Phil Robinson, writer and director of “Field of Dreams.”
Also visiting are Freida Lee Mock, who made the documentary “Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner,” and Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer of “Children of Men.”
Pirated copies of Hollywood films are widely available in Vietnam for just over a dollar apiece and US films are frequently shown on the country’s state-run television networks. Vietnam’s own film industry is changing quickly, from an old state-run studio system to a more modern industry that began allowing private companies to make movies in 2003.
The Ministry of Culture and Information still reviews all scripts before production can begin. But the subject matter is moving more frequently beyond the familiar tales of heroic Vietnamese soldiers and other nationalistic themes into racier, more commercial fare.
“American film makers are interested in Vietnam and they’d like to see its film industry develop,” said Michael DiGregorio, who manages cultural programming for the Ford Foundation in Vietnam. “They want to see Vietnam tell its own story.”