New film features Southern history, culture

Đất Rừng Phương Nam tells the adventures of a boy named An, who loses his family in a battle and lives in the southwestern region under French colonialism.


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MOVIE STAR: Veteran actress Hồng Ánh and child actor Hạo Khang on a poster of the film Đất Rừng Phương Nam (Song of the South) directed by Nguyễn Quang Dũng. The film will be in cinemas in October. Photo courtesy of the producer.

By Thu Anh

The post production of Đất Rừng Phương Nam (Song of the South), a film on southern history and culture by blockbuster director Nguyễn Quang Dũng, is scheduled to be completed this month.

Fans are waiting to see the film premiere in HCM City on October 20.

Đất Rừng Phương Nam features southerners, their history, culture and lifestyle.

It tells the adventures of a boy named An, who loses his family in a battle and lives in the southwestern region under French colonialism.

He learns new things with the help of poor farmers and children, and travels around the region and witnesses the suffering of peasants during the colonial era.

He joins the Việt Minh (the Independence for Việt Nam League) guerrillas to fight against the French.

The producer, HK Film, and its partners spent VNĐ40 billion (US$1.7 million) on production.

“I spent five years to prepare my biggest film project Đất Rừng Phương Nam,” said the film’s director Dũng, who has 25 years in the industry.

Dũng and his staff, including director of photography Diệp Thế Vinh and music producer Đức Trí, are working on the final steps in post-production.

The film Đất Rừng Phương Nam is based on the famous novel of the same name by author Đoàn Giỏi, winner of the State Awards for Literature and Arts in 2001. The book was released by the Kim Đồng Publishing House in Hà Nội in 1958.

The 255-page work is a song in praise of southern people, their history and culture. It provides readers, particularly children, with new ideas about the nature, animals, rivers, plants and people of the south.

The book has been printed in dozens of languages, such as English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish and Polish. Its chapter titled Sông Nước Cà Mau (Rivers of Cà Mau) has been used in textbooks for secondary students.

In 1997, the work was adapted into an 11-part TV series called Đất Phương Nam (The Southern Land) by director Nguyễn Vinh Sơn.

Sơn’s work won the prize for the Year’s Best TV Series at the 1997 National Film Festival presented by the Việt Nam Cinematography Association (VCA).

It was subtitled in English and has been distributed in the US, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore.

“I hope my new version of Đất Rừng Phương Nam will meet the demands of moviegoers, especially author Giỏi’s readers, who are of all ages and backgrounds,” said Dũng in an interview with local media before filming.

Lead actress

Dũng chose movie star Hồng Ánh for the lead role, mother of An, to guarantee the film’s success.

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REMADE CLASSIC: A scene from the film Đất Rừng Phương Nam (Song of the South), a production on southern history and culture directed by Nguyễn Quang Dũng. Photo courtesy of the producer

In the film Đất Rừng Phương Nam, Ánh worked hard to make her role realistic.

Ánh began her movie career in 1995. She was trained at the Dance School of HCM City. She received a BA in screenplay writing at the University of Theatre and Cinematography.

She won several top prizes at Vietnamese and international film festivals, including the Golden Sky for Best Movie Actress by the VCA in 2000 and 2007, and Best Actress award at the fifth Dubai International Film Festival in 2008.

She represented Việt Nam at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008, 2011 and 2013.

In 2017, she released her debut feature film as a director in The Way Station, a production about love adapted from Đỗ Phước Tiến’s story titled Đảo Của Dân Ngụ Cư (The Island of Aliens). The book was translated into French and English in 1992.

The Way Station won the Best Film, Best Actor and Best Director of Photography award at the ASEAN International Film Festival & Awards (AIFFA) 2017 held in Malaysia.

It also won the Best Story award at the 58th Asia Pacific Film Festival in Taipei in 2018. Actress Ngọc Thanh Tâm of HCM City, who plays the lead role in the film, brought home the Special Jury Award for Best Actress.

“I think a talent for acting, a love for the profession and a kind heart make an excellent actor,” said Ánh, who owns Blue Productions, a film studio targeting young directors, in HCM City.

Ánh was invited to be a juror at the 6th ASEAN International Films Festival (AIFFA) in Sarawak, Malaysia from August 2 to 4.

Others in the jury panel include Malaysians U-Wei Bin Haji Saari and Effendee Mazlan, Ihsan Nurullah Kabil of Turkey, and Indonesian Viva Westi.

AIFFA was established in 2013 for ASEAN directors, cinematographers, actors and fans to converge to celebrate excellent movies from the region.

Theo Vietnamnews