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Veteran documentary director releases new book

Veteran director Dao Trong Khanh has just published a book on his experience during his 50-year career working as a documentary maker.

The 500-page book, titled Đất & Người (Land & People), includes his pieces of writing and historical documents as well as images, many of which have been used to make his documentaries.

Veteran director Dao Trong Khanh (second from right) introduces his book at the headquarters of the Writers Association Publishing House in Hanoi on June 10. Photo

The book is divided into two parts, namely Revolution and Land & People. The first part consists of various pieces on the August Revolution, President Ho Chi Minh, General Vo Nguyen Giap, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, the price of victory, sacrifice of innocent people and soldiers at the moment of reunification at midday on April 30, 1975.

The latter part gathers Khanh’s writing on colleagues, who are great names in Vietnamese literature and art, like photographer Vo An Ninh, painter Nguyen Tu Nghiem, film director Hong Sen, and poets Luu Quang Vu, Thi Hoang and Thanh Tung.

According to painter Le Thiet Cuong, when writing on his artist friends, Khanh is very delicated in picking special characteristics of each person he describes.

“Everyone has their own unique appearance and nature,” Cuong said. “During the war painter Luu Cong Nhan wore flowery shirts and shorts. He stood as tall as a foreign man drying himself under the sun by the river. Poet Thanh Tung wore the dirty blue uniform of a factory worker. When he recited a poem, his eyes would turn red.”

Khanh also wrote many pieces on the northern coastal city of Hai Phong, where he was born and grew up with various proper names like So Dau, Sau Kho, Cho Sat and Tam Bac.

On his travels throughout the country, he has more than once found stones that represent wives waiting for their husbands.

“The stones are the wives of soldiers that had marched into battle and never returned home,” he wrote. “The wives carried their babies to high mountains to wait for the husbands. After a long time, they turned to stone. Only gentle-natured people, who have suffered wars, can create such painful legends of loyalty in the past thousands of years.”

Director and People’s Artist Dao Trong Khanh was born in 1940 in Kien Thuy, Hai Phong City. In early 1960, before starting his cinema career, he worked at Hai Phong Port during the American War.

In 1965, Khanh started his work as a documentary maker. He shot historic documentaries on Hai Phong air strikes by American bombers.

He has worked for many years in the Central Documentary and Science Documentary Studio, where he has acted as a writer and director in dozens of documentaries.

Cover of the book.

The documentaries that he was involved in have always had a special style regardless of his role. He is considered one of the leading documentary directors and producers of Vietnamese cinema.

He has been awarded the People’s Artist title, the highest of its kind in the year 2000, and the State Prize in Literature and Arts in 2007.  VNS

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