Contemporary Vietnamese Film Industry

When the economic reformation, doi moi, took over as the primary political agenda in Vietnam, it opened door for foreign film industry to do film about Vietnam. Many French and French Vietnamese directors took this opportunity to revisit the country during the transnational process of modernization. The film narrative produced during this time period predominantly concentrated either on the nostalgia of a great colonial life, which Panivong Norindr deliberates in his book Phantasmatic Indochina, or about the peaceful life of ordinary Vietnamese people. Under these narratives, it coincidently creates friendly descriptions of Vietnam, in which also helps the Vietnamese tourism industry to prosper simultaneously.

A French Vietnamese director, Tran Anh Hung, and his trilogy films about Vietnam civilian life during the war received international fame and acclaim. The Scent of Green Papaya (1993),[1] portrays a domestic life of a bourgeois Vietnamese family in the 1940s and 1950s. The representation of Vietnam in his films depicts a different side of Vietnam during the war. Director Tran Anh Hung has recreated the ordinary life of Vietnamese people based on his parents’ memories – he did not experience nor had personal memories of this period. The Scent of Green Papaya is about the acceptance of the traditional social hierarchy rather than memories of the war. Because Tran Anh Hung’s film narrative reflected the ordinary life of Vietnamese people, which aligned to the government agenda to create a social message to the people. The Vietnamese government monitored the film narrative to concentrate on the economic reform rather than reminding families about their war’s memories.

The White Silk Dress (2006)

The Rebel (2007)

[1] The Scent of Green Papaya won two top prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. His other two films are Cyclo (1995) and The Vertical Ray of the Sun (2000). All three films focus on ordinary life of Vietnamese people during and after the war. The memory of war is hardly presented in his films.