Friday, October 23, 2009

Vietnam comes to London

By Andy Brooks

LONDONERS will get a taste of Vietnamese culture this month with the screening of three major Vietnamese films, including the internationally acclaimed Don’t Burn It [Dung Dot], which has been officially chosen to represent Vietnamese cinema in the best foreign language film category at the 2010 Oscars in Los Angeles next March.
Over 40 years ago Vietnam was on everyone’s lips as the heroic Vietnamese people battled against the might of US imperialism to drive the invaders out and reunify their country under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh and the communists. Final victory was achieved in 1975 and the establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Though the country still bears the scars of that monstrous imperialist war, Vietnam has advanced to develop a modern socialist economy and a haven for peace and progress in south-east Asia. But while we remember those epic days of sacrifice and struggle we often forget that Vietnam is an ancient land with rich traditions and a thriving movie industry that is now going beyond the confines of Asia to span the entire globe.
Some of the best Vietnamese films will be shown in London as part of the
Vietnam Festival of Culture this month. And the festival kicked off with a gala performance by the country’s top artistes on Monday at Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall, attended by Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and opened by visiting Vietnamese deputy premier Hoang Trung Hai.
Then the hall was transported into the heart of modern and traditional Vietnamese culture as singers, dancers and musicians held the audience spellbound with a selection of traditional and modern Vietnamese music as well as an interpretation of the English folk-song Scarborough Fair and a Hungarian classic Czadas gypsy dance.
The Vietnam film festival that follows will be held at the nearby Cine Lumiere, French Institute, in South Kensington from 29th to 31st October. Londoners will have the exclusive opportunity to see some of the most exciting and celebrated films to come out of Vietnam including The Black Forest, Don’t Burn It and The Story of Pao.
Two of the films are dramas: The Black Forest tells the tale of a love triangle between an illegal lodger in a northern forest, his fiancĂ© and his second son; The Story of Pao is set amongst the Hmong ethnic minority while Don’t Burn It is based on the true story of Dang Thuy Tram, a young female doctor from Hanoi who volunteered to help the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam working as a surgeon in a battlefield hospital during the Vietnam War and was killed by American troops.
The film reflects the profound humanity of the film’s modest and courageous heroine Tram, played by young actress Minh Huong. The film triumphed over 23 other movies to win the Audience Award at the Fukuoka International Film Festival in Japan earlier this month.

Tickets are just £5.00 and further details can be obtained by contacting the Cine Lumiere box office on 0207 073 1350 or checking out their website at

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