VietNamNet Bridge – A documentary on General Vo Nguyen Giap being made with direct donations in cash and kind from the public has so far raised VND500 million (US$24,000), producers say.
People's film: General Vo Nguyen Giap meets with local people in Thanh Xuong Commune in Dien Bien Province in 1984. The love and respect of the Vietnamese for the General was a strong inspiration for the makers of the documentary Vi Tuong Cua Nhan Dan.
They say this is the first time that such an effort is being made in Viet Nam.
Vi Tuong Cua Nhan Dan (The People's General), is a joint project carried out by the Dien Anh (Cinema) magazine, Viet Nam Film Institute and other unnamed partners. The documentary is expected to cost around VND650 million ($31,000) and released to the public on the general's first death anniversary in October.
The film is the brainchild of the Dien Anh magazine's Editor-in-chief, Bui The Vinh, who is also responsible for its production.
Vinh said that the film would be a "miraculous" connection of millions of Vietnamese hearts that love and respect the nation's legendary general.
"The idea struck me during the memorial service for the General. It was for the first time I was witnessing such a moving and sacred funeral, a testament to his popularity.
"I thought then of making a documentary to present the love of millions of Vietnamese people for the General."
Shooting for Vi Tuong Cua Nhan Dan has thus far taken place in Ha Noi and the central province of Quang Binh. It will continue in HCM City, Thua Thien-Hue, Dong Nai, Can Tho, the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) region and other provinces in the north from April to June.
The film crew are particularly looking forwards to shooting the most significant scene for the film – the 60th anniversary of the historic Dien Bien Phu Victory – which will be celebrated in May.
"At first, I did not intend to make a film about the General because I had already retired. Nevertheless, the love, respect and emotion that the public showed were so tremendous that I decided to do it," noted director Nguyen Thi Viet Nga said at a press conference on Thursday.
"In human history, it is rare to see a general who triumphed every time during 30 years of commanding his troops. He led a bare-foot army with primitive weapons, moulding it into a strong army of more than one million soldiers.
"I started to sit down and write the screenplay last October. I read many documents and watched films about the General. I completed the 58-page script after four months of non-stop work."
"We won't prolong the film to cost the people more money. We will do our utmost to focus on the key idea – the People's General. I do hope to complete it on schedule. It will be a token of gratitude from the entire nation to General Giap."
She said that the entire film crew is working without demanding any royalty, which is why, "basically, with the money we have now, we can make two episodes, each about 40 minutes long."
Initially, the documentary was expected to be 50 minutes long. However, the amount of documents and data available could lengthen it many more episodes.
In response to the producers' call, people from all over the country have contributed money, materials and ideas.
"A teacher in Ha Noi rang us, suggesting that we shoot a history lesson in any secondary school where General Vo Nguyen Giap's images are used when teaching students about patriotism," a member of the film crew said at the press conference.
"A veteran soldier in HCM City contributed numerous documentations and images of the General. Meritorious Artist Thanh Hung, a former TV presenter, expressed his desire to read the script for the documentary."
Dang Huu Phuc, who is composing music for the film, said: "Besides newly-composed pieces, popular songs like Hon Tu Si (Martyr's Soul), Giai Phong Dien Bien (Dien Bien's Liberation), and Quang Binh Que Ta Oi (Oh Our Homeland, Quang Binh) will be used at the right time and right place."