The Queer Vietnamese film festival

By Phuong Lien Nguyen

Established in 2016, the Queer Vietnamese Film Festival (QVFF) is an independent film festival dedicated to celebrating the artistic and cultural contributions of the LGBTI Vietnamese community within cinema (QVFF 2018). The queer movement in Vietnam which started to surface in the 2000s, however, the film industry in Vietnam still effects from old patterns and traditional attitudes. I think that the queer movie is still scarce in big-screen when the government tends to be more obsessed with how the traditional value is portrayed. Some films had not passed the government’s review to be screened, they must choose the online platform to publish their work. Nevertheless, Vietnam is a communist country, the only way to transfer the message about LGBTI community is to legalize it. The QVFF provides a channel for movie creators who had little or no opportunities to screen their work publicly and the success of the festival is a result of its evolution. The QVFF creates space for Vietnamese’s LGBTI community to directly engage with political issues and raise the awareness about the queer cultural movement in Vietnam society. The QVFF is an example to explain the concept of counterpublic.

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Counterpublics are formed as a response to the exclusions of the dominant public and that their existence better promotes the ideal of participatory parity (Fraser 2013) I argue that the film festival as a powerful emotional and intentional resource for animating moral deliberation and democratic dissent as it mediates the “stranger relationality” central to public engagement. Queer film festivals maintain a unique cultural space that movie made for LGBTI community can be screened, discussed and publicly debated.

Films have the soft power to engage with an audience and impact on the perception. On the one hand, the QVFF highlight the emotive potential of modern cinema, thus the independent film-maker can create a new way to tell their story and generate the country’s societal shift in their film. They turned the story of homosexual love into normal love stories to gain the emotions of the audience. The QVFF’s organizers define that the festival is an important momentum for the community to think about LGBTI’s life as a normal person in a different way. Furthermore, creating a unique festival image can get attention from the audience and build the reputation in the global movie industry. Many young movie-makers in Vietnam take the advantage of the film festival to generate the new image of a small industry

On the other hand, Vietnam must face with the challenge of small market size and the lack of human resources in producing and distributing the queer film. The producers understand that the festival exhibition as a key channel for reaching and connecting with people, however, they also realize the concerns about the distribution and costs required. In the case of QVFF, the film festival must receive the support from the international organization and have an American tour before launching in Vietnam. When I am looking at the list of the movie in QVFF, I also find that most movies are published a long time ago. Independent film-maker in Vietnam hardly finds the financial support to produce and launch the movie in the mainstream media. Vietnam queer movie industry is still new and young, thus the QVFF can open an opportunity for film-maker in Vietnam to generate their product to a bigger community and gain more attention from the sponsor. Furthermore, the community can have a space to identify their own value and change the society’s perception of the LGBTI community.

 

Reference:

Fraser, N 2013, “Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critical of actually existing democracy”, Social Text.

Queer Vietnamese Film Festival, https://www.qvff.org/

KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL IN AUSTRALIA IS BACK

By Phuong Lien Nguyen – 28675835

I suddenly saw a poster of Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) in a Korean chicken restaurant, one question raised in my mind why one film festival was promoted in a strange place. As a result, I decided to go to KOFFIA to find the answer to my question. KOFFIA is organized in 4 different cities in Australia, 22 movies are chosen from various category to screen at the festival (Koffia 2018). When I attend the festival, I feel that the film festival was organized to promote the Korean movie industry as well as the Korean culture. The audience can discover the music industry, the Korean cuisine and tourism, and their local value. After searching on the website, I find that this Korean restaurant is one of the sponsors of the film festival, so I just realize that how the film festival attracts the audience from the little things.

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In the last two decades, the development of Korean Wave has considered as the production of transnational culture under globalization process. The economic growth, the spread of similar cultures across the countries and the development of digital communication technology have played an important feature in the rise of consumption of Korean media culture (Cho 2005). Particularly, the success of Korean popular music or K-pop has certainly contributed to the influence of local product to Western cultural market. From my point of view, this trend can be considered as the antithesis of the homogenizing force of cultural and media when the heterogenization emerges as the main characteristic of the phenomenal. K-Pop industry modifies the global content into local content and they distribute it on a global scale. This trend represents a regionalization of transnational cultural flows when global audience accepts the K-pop product, especially the acceptance of neighboring countries with the similar cultural background.

In the festival, I chose to watch “Stand by me” movie. I was impressed by the poster because I could see a heart-warming drama about a grandfather and his grandchildren. In less than 90 mins, the grandfather – who is never named in the film must take full responsibility for his grandchildren when his daughter-in-law runs away with his dead’s son life insurance. The old man does his best to maintain the daily life for 3 people, however, his grandchild still blames him. The major turning point in the movie appear when he will die soon because of the lung cancer, thus he must find a person who can raise his children. The film flows naturally, the director concentrates on the value of family with touching and well-meaning message. The movie touches my emotion through their delicate facial expressions and I don’t believe that this movie is the director’s debut feature.

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I also impressed by the viewer’s review in the KOFFIA’s Facebook page. The organizers provide some short-interview clip to receive the audience’s feedback and opinion after watching the movie. They build a bridge to connect with an audience when the producer can engage and connect directly with their own audience. The festival is a communication platform to generate a unique value that delivers the powerful global impact resulted from the transnational cultural product.

 

Reference:

Cho, H 2005, ‘Reading the Korean Wave as a sign of global shift’, Korean Journal, vol.45, no.4, pp.147-182.

Korean Film Festival in Australia 2018, http://koffia.com.au/film-line-up-2018/

 

 

Film Festival as public sphere

The theory about public sphere was first generated by Habermas. To Habermas (1989), the public sphere where private audience aware, interact, discuss public factor and come together as a public. I think that the film festival creates a powerful emotional and intentional resource for animating moral deliberation and democratic dissent as it mediates the “stranger rationality” central to public engagement. Furthermore, the film festival shown is itself a part of national life, the public seems to see itself, and to see itself in terms of a conception of civic identity.

Firstly, the national and international films festivals are a critical medium that generate the social, economic and political factor. Furthermore, film festival has a powerful emotional and information resource to get public engagement, thus they can influence the perception of audience in cultural landscape. We can see that film festivals have the freedom to generate the sensitive and difficult topic in a different way. They can raise the awareness of community to discuss about a specific topic, however, the government still a high level of control over what the film maker deliver the message to the public. Audio and visual material in film create a competitive advantage that is hardly not found in another mainstream media. Furthermore, film festival help to explore myself to other’s people’s thoughts and opening up a new perspective about seeing the world. And that’s how I felt at MIFF when I attended. In MIFF, many international films bring their local issue to international community, thus people can raise the awareness and open a platform to discuss this problem.

Secondly, question and answers (Q&A) format functions between producers and festival audience are generated as communicative performative activities. For audiences, the film festival Q&A session help the participation of festival customers in its verbally and emotionally-engaging public atmosphere. For filmmakers, they can share and explain their message with audience about the inspiration and the process.

Finally, film festival use new media technology to engage with audience and manage the film festival experience. Technology is illustrated by a model of networking, flexibility, and diversification, thus it gives a soft power to the public audience to participated in an active activity which could potentially access to information and resolve some public issues. The information is now available to anyone after a simple click. In MIFF, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the main method for audience engagement, where the audience can respond to the production and publication of films by leaving comment on Facebook or Twitter channel. The film makers practice the term of “community engagement”, thus they tend to develop a deeper interaction rather than transmission of information. These factors make the film festival to become a natural function for the public sphere.

Reference list:

Habermas, J 1989, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, Cambridge.

The future of film festival

The Cannes Film Festival founded in 1946 which is recognized is one of the world’s most prestigious film gathering in the world today. The Cannes Film Festival has the long history; however, this year’s festival encountered a perfect storm of challenges. The Festival delivered a new rule that any films without theatrical distribution in France were restricted to join the competition. Films cannot perform on streaming platforms for three years after screening in cinemas. That rules directly affected Netflix’s process that films in theaters and online for audience are appeared on the same day. Netflix have planned to bring 5 movies to Cannes, however Netflix decides to withdraw its appearance from this year’s festival because of the new rule.

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I never had the chance to experience the Cannes Film Festival, but I have been told that I watch Netflix every single day and support any independent film in Netflix. With the development of technology, it creates the reduction of the film-going experience when the audience choose to watch movie on smaller devices such as computer, phones in their homes. The truth is, film industry must follow the process of evolution. The decision of Netflix rises the conflict between streaming companies and the traditional cinema industry how films will be watched in the future.

The Cannes Film Festival believe in the tradition value which films must be distributed in theaters for a group of people to watch them. Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos mentioned that “the festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema…. We are choosing to be about the future of cinema. If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that is fine.” In the case of Netflix, when they attend Cannes, they do not seek the distribution to compare with most independent film. They have their own streaming platforms with millions of subscribers. They go to international film festival to find the fame and raise the reputation in the film industry. Furthermore, Netflix spend more resource in making movie by publishing more than 100 film on their channel. The influence of the streaming giant increases to interrupt the traditional process of theatrical distribution and threat the cinema owners.

In my opinion, I cannot agree with the decision of Cannes when they choose to keep good movie out rather than let more film in. Furthermore, audience still have a choice to choose between big screen and home-viewing experience. While audiences who do not live near a cinema, movie fans can access to watch an art movie through Netflix channel. Nevertheless, both parties also lost in this competition. When Netflix hardly attracts A-list director when their products cannot ensure to take place in the top film festival. In contrast, Cannes can lose their position for premiere films to compare with more flexible film festival such as Venice, Berlin, Busan when they support against modernization. The idea about the future of film industry continue to blur, when audiences change the way to access the content they want.

Reference:

Setoodeh, R 2018, ‘Netflix Pulls out of Cannes following rule change’, viewed 20 August 2018, https://variety.com/2018/film/news/netflix-cannes-rule-change-ted-sarandos-interview-exclusive-1202750473/

Festival de Cannes, Who we are, viewed 19 August 2018, https://www.festival-cannes.com/en/