VietNamNet Bridge - Not until the movie “Bui Doi Cho Lon”  (China Town) was suspended or even may be banned from going to local cinemas if the producers do not make some changes -- Vietnamese film makers has felt the “fear” of the "censorship scissors." Making movies in Vietnam is too risky because the regulations on censorship are general and vague.

Being postponed or banned?



The poster of "China Town".

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 "China Town" 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.)

The movie producer (Galaxy) and the director - Charlie Nguyen both said that the movie has just been postponed for editing, not banned from screens." However, this postponement has made the film crew confuse and upset because they do not know how to edit the movie.

Director of action--Johnny Tri Nguyen said: “The movie has over 30 minutes of action scenes. After failing in the first censorship, the producer had to cut up to 15 minutes of action scenes for the second censorship but this version was not approved. How can we do now? It is very costly to correct the movie. We had to pay by ourselves for the two previous versions because it is impossible to convene the investor to pour money into a movie that may be not approved. It is better for us if they show us how to correct it."

General Director--Charlie Nguyen said: "Actually, we know that each side has their own job. We make movies and they do the censorship and they correct the movies. I do not want to say much, because I just want to compromise our different tasks, for the mutual understanding and for my most favorite movie to be approved to come to the audience. The movie is now in an uncertainty. It will be broken if we correct it much but we do not have funding to re-shoot it. We are very seriously looking for ways to edit it to please the film evaluation council."

Film distributors XYZ Films (North America) and Quickfire Films (Europe) want to buy 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 is not approved by the evaluation council.

Films of the same fate

It is very risky to produce films in Vietnam. 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.

Before going to the cinema, there were rumors related to ”Lost in Paradise” and “Between Two Worlds” that the film evaluation council had commented that the movie is too dark, with gays, gay prostitution and horror elements and they would be cut a lot.

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 “China Town” doesn’t dare to speak big about their movie. They also reminded reporters to do the same; otherwise their movie would be never approved!

It is a must to ban the films of poor quality or going against customs and habits. But normally each person has a different feel. It is not sure about the “eyes” of the movie evaluation council to be good enough to encourage or ban movies in the context of a young and backward movie industry like in Vietnam.

There have been many suggestions that the Film Evaluation Council should classify films based on the age of viewers like other countries in the world.

Prohibition and cutting of movies is sometimes not advisable because it will limit the creativity of the filmmakers and does not help the development of Vietnam’s movie industry. What is missing now is the lack of exchange between the film producers and film censors. If both sides understand each other better, things will very much more favorable.

P. Linh