December 5, 2023
HANOI – The first HCM City International Film Festival (HIFF) is scheduled to take place in early 2024 and is expected to contribute to the establishment of HCM City as a “film city”.
HIFF 2024 is planned to be held from April 6-13, 2024, aiming to discover new talents, nurture young talents in the film industry, and contribute to the development of film in HCM City and Việt Nam as a whole.
The films competing at HIFF 2024 will be screened in HCM City, and the winning films will be announced at the award ceremony.
Other non-competing films will also be shown in the “Film Gala” programme.
Various specialised knowledge training classes conducted by professional filmmakers, directors, actors, and producers will be organised throughout the film festival.
A film startup market, music programmes, fashion shows and culinary events will also be organised as sideline activities within the event to attract locals and tourists to the film festival.
HIFF 2024 will feature seminars on a wide variety of topics, such as the development of film, investment opportunities, films around the world, and film making techniques, among others.
According to industry experts, HIFF 2024 is an eagerly awaited event for the filmmaking community, as HCM City is the film centre of the country.
Being a place that brings together a diverse workforce, from producers and distributors to directors and actors, HCM City greatly needs an internationally recognised film festival to promote the development of the domestic film industry, build a brand, and diversify cultural products.
Director and Artist Nguyễn Phương Điền said that the HIFF 2024 will be an opportunity for Vietnamese filmmakers to meet, interact, and compete with international colleagues.
“In recent times, the HCM City Short Film Festival has been very successful, showing many positive signals for this field. Therefore, we hope that through HIFF 2024, domestic filmmakers will collectively strive to create many attention-grabbing products in the region,” said Điền.
Spearheading cultural industry
Nguyễn Thị Thanh Thúy, deputy director of the Department of Culture and Sports of HCM City, said that cinema would be the spearhead in the city’s cultural industry development strategy.
Currently, HCM City’s cinema accounts for about 40 per cent of the national cinema market.
In 2019, the city’s film industry achieved a record revenue of VNĐ8.04 trillion.
HCM City’s film industry is expected to grow at an average annual rate of about 12 per cent from 2025, reaching over VNĐ5 trillion.
According to Jeremy Segay, Audiovisual attaché for the Southeast Asia region at the French Embassy in Việt Nam and a member of the HIFF Advisory Board, the potential of Vietnamese cinema, especially in HCM City, is significant.
The growth rate of Vietnamese cinema in terms of the number of theatres and film market share is impressive.
Segay cited data from the Screen International magazine, showing that in 2010, Việt Nam had 90 cinema screens, which increased to 1,100 screens by 2019.
In 2019, Việt Nam was one of the four countries in Southeast Asia with the highest domestic film market share, accounting for 29 per cent of total domestically released works.
“Each country has its own censorship regulations, which is normal. However, international film festivals usually create conditions to accept and be flexible with censorship to honour the language of cinema and the artistic vision of filmmakers,” he said.
Segay hopes that HIFF 2024 will also be flexible with these regulations.
According to him, the Busan International Film Festival paved the way for Japanese films to be screened in South Korea.
“Before 1996, Japanese films were completely banned in South Korea. However, the Busan Film Festival allowed 15 Japanese films to be screened. Since then, South Korea has allowed the screening of Japanese films,” Segay explained.
To make HIFF 2024 successful, insiders believe that there needs to be unity not only from management agencies but also from film distributors, producers, directors and actors.
The power of unity will lead to widespread promotion of HIFF 2024, turning this event into a festival that is discussed and attracts a large audience, thereby accelerating the development of the festival’s brand. — VNS