Vietnam: Film censorship upsets and confuses film producers

15 April 2013

Producing movies on a big budget in Vietnam is risky because the regulations on censorship are general and vague. Vietnamese film makers keep feeling the “fear” of the censorship scissors, reported VietNamNet Bridge.
The movie ‘Cho Lon’s Gangsters’ was suspended and may be banned from screening in local cinemas if the producers do not make some changes.

P. Linh of VietNamNet Bridge wrote:

“On social networking sites and the Facebook, the following message is being spread: ‘Based on the opinions of members of the Central Council on Film Evaluation, the Cinematography Agency has the following comments: Because the ‘Cho Lon’s Gangsters’ movie contains elements of violence, which does not reflect the social reality of Vietnam, so the film can not be popularized.

Film fans who want to watch this action movie are upset after the official announcement made by the film producer: “The film will be delayed (specific date is unknown) for editing to be suitable with Oriental culture at the request of the Central Council for Film Evaluation of the Cinematography Agency.

Film distributors XYZ Films in North America and Quickfire Films in Europe allegedly are interested in buying the movie for global distribution and to present it at the Cannes Film Festival. However, under the Cinematography Law of Vietnam, a movie cannot be distributed if it has not been approved by the evaluation council.

Films of same fate
“It is very risky to produce films in Vietnam,” wrote P. Linh: “The country’s movie industry is very poor so it is unable to make blockbusters like developed countries. But investing tens of billions dong to make a film is one way of gambling. Besides the worry of whether the audience like it or not, film producers have to worry about censorship. Some movies were stuck at the censorship stage.

‘Bay Cap 3’ (‘High School Trap’) by director Le Van Kiet (2012) was not approved for going to cinemas because of “inciting violence and being poor at art values.”

‘Bi, Don’t Be Afraid’ won a prize of the Critics Week category at the Cannes Film Festival but when it was screened, all “hot” scenes were cut, even though these scenes are closely linked with the film contents. When they were cut, the movie became very difficult to understand.

Most recently, when sending ‘Beauty Trap’ to the censorship council, director Nguyen Quang Dung prayed on his facebook, that the movie would pass the censorship.

Both making film and exploring the thought of the “superiors” is the common situation that film producers and film directors have to experience. A film producer said: “The more you talk about censorship, the more difficult censorship is for your movie so it is the best to say nothing.”

For that reason, the film crew of ‘Cho Lon’s Uncared-for Kids’ doesn’t dare to speak big about their movie. They also reminded reporters to do the same; otherwise their movie would be never approved!”

VietNamNet Bridge – 11 April 2013:
The movie industry faces censorship barriers

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