Preservation of ‘Gong’ faces challenges in Central Highlands

Preservation of the tradition of ‘Gong’ is facing serious challenges in the Central Highlands, said delegates at a conference in Da Lat City on January 25, which reviewed five years of a project to preserve and restore the traditional heritage values of Gong.   

The most serious concern is that the space to perform Gong has shrunk over the years. Many ceremonies and festivals using Gong have fallen into oblivion, while communal houses have been replaced with concrete houses.

Another problem is that the number of Gong performers have reduced as most young people are more interested in modern music than the ancient and traditional Gong culture.

Delegates at the conference suggested that authorized organs help revive and restore the traditional performing environment of Gong and support and preserve festivals and ceremonies using Gong.

Documentary film on 1968 Tet offensive on VTV1

Following the popular documentary ‘Paris Agreement of 1973’ that received a lot of attention, another episodic documentary film on Mau Than Tet (Lunar New Year) military campaign better known as ‘Tet Offensive of 1968’ will be aired on VTV1 tonight.

The historical documentary series took ten years in the making and will be finally shown today. Directed by the Vietnam Television in collaboration with the Vietnamese Television Film Identity Production, the documentary clearly explains what happened in 1968.

Accounts of the ‘Tet offensive’ have remained clouded and contradictory for long. For the first time, the true facts will be revealed.

Over 12 episodes, which will air on Vietnam Television (VTV), viewers will learn in detail of the campaign, known as Mau Than 1968 and operated by South Vietnamese liberation forces against the US backed regime during the Lunar New Year.

The event was considered a turning point in the long battle against American invaders.
The film production crew

Each episode will explore a different aspect of the campaign, from the root of the plan through its implementation.

The developments of the operation in the central region and the south will be reassessed, with particular focus put on the key battlefields of Saigon, Hue and Khe Sanh in Quang Tri Province.

"Despite it being a key moment in the national resistance war, the Mau Than campaign has not been examined deeply by South Vietnamese filmmakers," director Le Phong Lan told the media.

"I wanted to find out why the US, one of the most powerful countries in the world, interfered in a small and backward country far away and carried out one of the fiercest wars of the 20th century," she added.

Extensive analysis by historians, researchers and insiders will offer an insight into the psychological warfare that went on between the two sides and the propaganda and distortion adopted by the US government and the Saigon regime.

"I visited the Vietnam Centre and Archives at Texas Tech University and saw reports about the ‘Hue massacre' that were inaccurate," she said.

Her visit to Texas was one of many research trips to the US during the film-making process. She interviewed expert witnesses including history professor Larry Berman, former Washington Post reporter Don Luce and journalist and historian Stantey Karnow to hear their accounts of the Tet Offensive.

Lan has long enjoyed delving into the country's past. She is one of Ho Chi Minh City's few female documentary filmmakers and has devoted her life to capturing history and the workings of society on camera.

Hanoi ready for spring flower festival 2013

Hanoi is ready for the Hanoi Spring Flower Festival 2013, honouring craft villages and high-quality agricultural products, to be held at Vietnam Culture and Arts Exhibition Centre at No 2 Hoa Lu Street from January 30 to February 5.

The information was announced at a press briefing held in Hanoi on January 23.

The event will be held by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in coordination with the Hanoi City People’s Committee, Hanoi City Peasants’ Association, the Vietnam Folklore Arts Association and the Vietnam Association of Traditional Villages.

It offers valuable opportunities for productive meetings between artisans, farming households and businesses, encouraging innovation in the sector as well as boosting trade promotion and the consumption of agricultural products.

Vuong Duy Bien, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism and head of the organisation board, said that the fair not only highlights the best products of craft villages, but also serves people’s shopping needs for Tet, the year’s biggest traditional celebration. The organising board hopes this will become an annual event.

Nearly 100 products made from traditional materials, 100 calligraphic works and parallel sentences for Tet will be displayed at the event.

There will also be 200 stalls selling quality farm produce from Hanoi’s villages, such as lotus-scented tea, Ba Vi milk, Canh orange, and organic vegetables.

Intangible cultural heritage performed in Da Lat

Vietnam’s five intangible cultural heritage examples of humankind were performed in Da Lat on January 25.

It was the first opportunity for local people and international visitors to watch art troupes perform the cultural rites of five world intangible heritage examples.

They are “nha nhac” (Hue Royal Court music), “quan ho” (Bac Ninh love duet), ceremonial singing, xoan singing and Gong from the Central Highlands. They were all recognised by UNESCO in the 2003-2011 period.

The event, co-organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Lam Dong province, aimed to promote the value of the intangible heritage examples and develop cultural tourism at home and abroad.

On the same day, the ministry and province held a meeting to review the implementation of a five-year national programme on preserving and utilising the value of the space of Gong culture in the Central Highlands.

During the past five years, the programme has helped enhance the spiritual life of ethnic groups, and boost socio-economic development in the region.

Local authorities stressed the need to protect the cultural environment and raise public awareness of preserving indigenous cultural identities.

First children’s pictorial book on Truong Sa, Hoang Sa

The first pictorial book for children portraying Truong Sa and Hoang Sa archipelagoes was released in Hanoi on January 25.

Entitled “To Quoc Noi Dau Song” (Fatherland on the High Seas), the book is comprised of 200 photos and documents that reflect the archipelagoes’ history, geography, culture, nature, landscape and people.

Readers will have a chance to “tour” the most interesting and special places of the two archipelagoes. They will see trees that grow in Truong Sa, like the square almond tree (barringtonia asiatica), as well as the daily life and combat spirit of people and soldiers on the islands.

The photos were taken by reporters, artists, photographers and soldiers that used to work on or are connected to the islands and seas around them. They are arranged in a way suitable for children.

The book is part of a project sponsored by the Vietnam News Agency and Vietnam People’s Navy.

U.S. Embassy’s Video Contest winners announced

The winners of the U.S. Embassy’s contest “Viet Nam: My Voice, My Video” were announced Friday in Ha Noi in a warm ceremony digitally linked to the Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

“Viet Nam: My Voice, My Video” contest was part of U.S. Embassy’s Digital Meetup 2.0, a yearly event organized by the U.S. Mission to Viet Nam’s American Spaces
“Viet Nam: My Voice, My Video” asked participants to “tell the world one – and only one – thing about Viet Nam” in an 100 second or less video. The contest ran from January 4 to January 23, 2013, with 80 videos submitted from 16 cities and provinces, making it the first ever nationwide video contest organized by the U.S. Embassy.

Twelve videos made it to the shortlist, which were shown in the ceremony, with topics ranging from Sai Gon by night, Ha Noi café to current affairs such as congestion in the capital city.

 “The level of creativity was very high, they are very well produced,” U.S. Embassy’s Press Attaché highly evaluated the videos submitted, “the filmmakers had put a lot of time and efforts into it, they created it themselves, they used and cited where their music was from, they didn’t violate any copyright laws, that was also very important.”

“The reason behind this contest is to give people in Viet Nam the opportunities to tell the world about Viet Nam through their own words, through their own images. […] I think it’s best to hear from Vietnamese people what they love about their country,” Mr. Cryder talked about the contest that he initiated.

As a representative of the U.S. Embassy at the event, the Press Attaché expressed interests to “provide people the chance to create and share things with their families and friends in Viet Nam”.

Nguyen Thi Huong Trang, an university student from Ha Nam province, who made a video about bún – the “special rice”, said “I joined the contest to let international friends know more about our country Viet Nam.”

The Grand prize of an iPad mini finally went to Le Anh Tu, a 23 year-old Design student at the FPT university. Tu won the contest with “Peace”, his video about Ha Noi, as “the city always bring peaceful feelings to me [him]”.

The Grand winner wants to pursuit career in filmmaking and photography and winning the contest provides a premise for him.

U.S. Embassy Ha Noi’s Public Affairs Officer Chris Hodges strongly closed the ceremony, saying “It’s important how you define Viet Nam, you who live here and know this country and this beautiful culture and the history better than anyone. This is a chance for all of us to learn from you, to be inspired by you.”

Phan Huyen Thu, a high-profile film director at the Central Documentary and Scientific Film Studio, also joined the events to share her experiences in filmmaking and give advice to young Vietnamese who wants to pursuit a career in the industry.

“Viet Nam: My Voice, My Video” contest was part of U.S. Embassy’s Digital Meetup 2.0, a yearly event organized by the U.S. Mission to Viet Nam’s American Spaces, consisting of the U.S. Embassy Ha Noi and Consulate General HCMC’s American Centers.

Pictorial multilingual magazine on ethnic minority groups debuts

A pictorial magazine, Dan Toc va Mien Nui (Nationalities and the Mountain Area), owned by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) and published in multiple languages, has debuted in Hanoi.

The magazine was published in Vietnamese and five ethnic languages, including Khmer, Cham, Bahnar, Jrai and Ede. It replaces a newsletter which has been published by VNA since January, 1991, the first such publication to target ethnic groups.

The magazine has been distributed free to all villages, communes, schools, and border posts in locations inhabited by these ethnic groups and is widely used as a reference for school children. Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan praised VNA for the publication. He asked the editorial board and the agency to survey the target readership to improve the content, to make it even more relevant to the lives, cultures, customs and religions of each group.

He also asked press agencies that are carrying out programmes for ethnic minority groups, including VNA, the Vietnam Television and the Voice of Vietnam, to coordinate with each other to make the programmes more practical and suitable with the situation, and meet the people’s demand for information.

VNA is preparing conditions to publish the magazine in three additional languages, including Mong, K’Ho and M’nong languages, in the second quarter of 2013. This will be the next step to expand publications to all recognised ethnic languages by 2015.