Vietnamese film project wins big at financing forum in Hong Kong

A film project by Vietnamese filmmakers beat out 27 other candidates to claim two major prizes at a film financing forum in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

The project, named The Third Wife, directed by Nguyen Phuong Anh and produced by Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, was pitched at the 14th Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF).

Established in 2000, HAF is the leading film project market in Asia and aims to bring Asian filmmakers with upcoming projects to Hong Kong for co-production ventures with top film financiers, producers, bankers, distributors and buyers.

The 14th HAF took place from March 13 to 16 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center and saw the participation of 28 selected film projects from more than 10 different markets in Asia.

In addition to The Third Wife, another Vietnamese entry, All My Daughters by director Phan Dang Di and producers Phan Dang Di and Lizeroux Le Hang made the list.

The Third Wife won two awards at the event, one of which was the prestigious HK$150,000 (US$19,300) HAF Award, presented to one selected project outside of Hong Kong.

The other was the White Light Post-Production Award which offers post-production services worth $15,000 by White Light Studio in Bangkok, Thailand.

The film, set in the 19th-century rural Vietnam, tackles a wide range of topics including child marriage, polygamy, homosexuality, and incest through the life story of May, a 14-year-old girl given away in an arranged marriage.

Vampire Diary claimed the HAF Award for a selected project from Hong Kong, while the other 11 awards were granted to projects from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.

Prior to the event, The Third Wife had been crowned Best Art Film Project at the 2015 Autumn Meeting in December last year, an annual event held in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang that gathers and connects filmmakers in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.

The screenplay of The Third Wife was also chosen as a recipient of the Spike Lee Film Production Fund award in 2014, a semi-finalist at the 2014 ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship, and most recently listed on the NYU Purple List for the best screenplays of 2015.

Director Nguyen Phuong Anh received a BA from the University of Oxford in English Literature and a post-graduate degree from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London for theater directing, while producer Tran Thi Bich Ngoc graduated from the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema in 1998.

The awards are expected to be a great launching point for Nguyen Phuong Anh and Tran Thi Bich Ngoc to continue seeking sponsorship for the film.

Watch the highlights of the second day of the HAF 2016 here: