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Vietnam creative industries dealt another blow with Cannes-slated movie banned

A Vietnamese film headed for Cannes has been denied a distribution licence by Vietnam’s Ministry of Communications on the grounds that it shows ‘a gloomy, deadlocked, and negative view’ of Vietnam, according to Screen Daily.

This is another blow to Vietnam’s creative industries which are widely seen as underdeveloped, yet continue to be hampered by Vietnam’s strict censorship regime–whereas creative industries make up about 5 to 10 percent of global GDP, in Vietnam that figure is only estimated to be about 3 percent

This latest action by the Cinema Department follows a fine, in 2021, issued to the producers of the movie Vi–which took out the 71st Berlin International Film Festival Special Jury Prize–for failing to gain permission to show the film outside of Vietnam from Vietnam’s Cinema Department. 

Producers of the Vietnamese drama ‘Rom’ were also fined back in 2020 for failing to get approval from the Cinema department to show their film at the Busan International Film Festival.

Note that script approval is generally required before a film can be produced in Vietnam. This has obvious implications for the creative direction of a film and therefore is often not sought. Requesting a licence to distribute a film therefore raises questions about why script approval was not requested in the first instance, and therefore this is generally not sought either. That said, problems only really tend to arise when a film gains international exposure which would likely not happen had the script been edited by the Cinema Department–it’s very much a Catch-22 with no clear way out for film producers. However, in the case of Vi the producers renounced their ownership of the film to avoid further fines in Vietnam.

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