Held every two years, the awards this year drew no less criticism than previous incarnations and led to open disappointment among many cinema observers, writers and critics.
Predictably, the war film “Mui co chay” (The Scent of Burnt Grass) by director Huu Muoi won Best Picture (Golden Kite), and poet Hoang Nhuan Cam, who penned the film’s script, received Best Original Screenplay.
However, as “Mui co chay” is a film funded by the government, it has yet to be released nationwide in any cinema, which is similar to “Tam hon me” (The soul of a Mother), another nominee for Best Picture by director Nhue Giang and “Do..hay day” (Here or there), an independent work by overseas Vietnamese filmmaker Xiu Pham.
Surprisingly, the blockbuster comedy-action film “Long Ruoi,” which was not critically acclaimed, won four important awards, including Best Actor for comedian Thai Hoa, Best Director for Charlie Nguyen, Best Supporting Actress for Tina Tinh and the Silver Kite Award.
While Charlie Nguyen said he was not happy when learned that he won the prize and that the film won three more times, as “this is the worst film I have ever made, and there are many things I regret doing in this film”. Giving the Best Supporting Actress award toTina was also another disappointing decision, given her poor performance.
Contrary to earlier predictions, other names that were mentioned the most before the awards took place, like Ngo Thanh Van in “House in the Alley”, Luong Manh Hai in “Lost in Paradise”, and Phung Hoa Hoai Linh and Hong Anh in “The soul of a Mother,” came home empty-handed.
“Lost in Paradise” by Vu Ngoc Dang, one of the strongest candidates that was expected to dominate at the awards with its beautiful cinematography, original story and impressive cast, missed most of the important awards.
Tien Phong Newspaper quoted a close source saying that 11 out of 13 members of the judging committee, most of whom are in their 60s or70s, did not favor the explicit homosexual content and scenes of the film, hence the decision.
“Lost in Paradise” only got a Best Supporting Actor for Hieu Hien, a comedian who played a homeless waste picker who can’t speak well.
“I still remember when I gave the script to my mom [the late actress Kim Ngoc], she said if I did it well, people would not remember me just as a comedian. I think I did a pretty good job, but to be honest I still want to make audiences laugh instead of cry,” Hieu Hien said.
The film’s main cast members, including Luong Manh Hai and Ho Vinh Khoa, who play a gay couple, were not nominated.
While young actress Quynh Hoa, who played bold and rebellious Kim in “Sai Gon Yo”, by American director Stephan Gauger, won Best Actress, directors Bui Dinh Hac and Dang Nhat Minh were honored for their lifetime contributions to the national cinema industry.
Many artists who were either nominated or winners were not present at the awards, including Thai Hoa, Charlie Nguyen, and the main cast of “Lost in Paradise.”
This year’s prestigious award ceremony drew 137 entries competing in seven categories, including scientific, documentary, short films, cartoon and TV series.