Comic trips with pure Vietnamese cultural features attract int'l audiences

Director Mai Vu - who is behind the success of the animated film ‘Giac Mo Goi Cuon’ (Spring Roll Dream) shared that Vietnamese cultural elements are valuable assets that helped attract international audiences but she had not been aware of before.
Comic trips with pure Vietnamese cultural features attract int'l audiences ảnh 1 A scene in “Giac Mo Goi Cuon” film created by director Mai Vu
The 'Giac Mo Goi Cuon' film won the Light on Women Award for a film competing in the La Cinef category at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Only Mai Vu is Vietnamese, the film crew is all foreign personnel. However, the story of cultural interference in the film is completely Vietnamese, typically spring rolls and fish sauce. ‘At first, I was also a bit self-deprecating because Vietnamese products could not be made yet in comparison to other films in the world. But then I realized that when I go abroad, I have to make Vietnamese stories, of Vietnamese people’ shared Mai Vu.
Meanwhile, Ha Huy Hoang, the artistic director of Dee Dee Animation studio, spent a long time changing his own perception. He initially did not like traditional elements but he has become interested in Vietnamese traditionally cultural features. He remembered that when studying in the US, with the subject of character shaping, the teacher gave exercises on how to show who he is.
At that time, he was really confused. Subsequently, during the 15 weeks of that course, he joined a lot of Vietnamese cultural groups, and read and absorbed things that he discovered that he had not liked before. He finally understood that he should draw something about Vietnam.
And in the movie Cannons: Prequel released in early 2019, although the world in the film is hypothetical, Vietnamese cultural features such as the ritual of the emperor, worshiping the four palaces, and costumes are woven very naturally.
With the experience of making and bringing films to participate in film festivals and awards abroad, most Vietnamese animators acknowledge that Vietnamese material is the solid foundation that helps them to be different from other films in the world.
Director Dinh Anh Tuan of the film U linh tich ky: Bot than ky said that they decided to choose Vietnamese materials simply because it is what he understands most, is familiar with, and sees every day.
With the same opinion, Mr. Ha Huy Hoang said that the introduction of Vietnamese cultural elements into the film, first of all, so that it is not labeled as an American film. He shared: ‘I'm Vietnamese, let's tell a Vietnamese story. Vietnamese materials are everywhere and we always think about it. Therefore, most of the products we make have Vietnamese elements and are brought into the wild. Sometimes just an image, a sentence has Vietnamese quality.’
Explaining the choice of spring rolls for the film, director Mai Vu said that not only she, but the crew members all acknowledged it had a high brand identity. It is not only a pure Vietnamese dish but also shows the harmony between East and West, contributing to highlighting the theme and message the film wants to convey.
At the launch of the film U Linh Ky Ky: Miracle Powder, director Dinh Anh Tuan shared that the crew did not receive comparisons with foreign animated films when participating in international film festivals.
“I still remember when the team represented the International Animation Film Festival Stuttgart(ITFS) Film Festival, everyone just wondered if this film was made by Vietnamese people?”, he said.
Earlier, director Raul Garcia, a former animator at Walt Disney, also commented: "The art and quality in the animated film U Linh Ky: Miracle Powder is really high, with aesthetic value. and excellent production value. The art direction and character design are beautiful. Overall, the film is above the quality standard compared to many works."
In fact, Vietnamese cartoons have made impressive achievements which are the result of decades of tinkering, defining, and persevering with the filmmakers' choices. Therefore, they are confident to say that the future of Vietnamese animation is wide open.
According to director Mai Vu, if 10 years ago there were only a few animation studios, now, both quantity and quality are increasing rapidly. But the most important thing is that audience in the world welcomed Vietnamese cartoons.
She affirmed: “When we made the comic strip series ‘Xin chao but chi’ (Hello pencil), there was hardly much content for Vietnamese audiences. When the comic strip was put on YouTube and was well received, the film crew realized that Vietnamese people craved pure Vietnamese content.

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