US-backed film competition on wildlife protection calls for entries in Vietnam

Individuals and groups are all welcome to share their filmmaking passion and resolve in combating sinister crime against wildlife by submitting their short films to an ongoing competition organized as part of the Vietnam-US liaison in the relentless fight.

The WildFest film contest, which was launched on June 22 in Hanoi, receives entries from now until August 31.

The competition accepts recently produced films of up to seven minutes in duration.

The films are meant to promote awareness, knowledge and understanding of wildlife and their habitat, and effectively address issues related the illegal wildlife trade and rhino horn consumption through their powerful messages to the relevant target audiences.

Entries are to be submitted to, or via YouTube, Google Drive and Vimeo.

On October 1, the jury will select the most riveting films to be part of the “Official Selection,” where they will compete for the top three awards.

The winning films will premiere at the WildFest awards ceremony, slated to be held on November 1 at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, located in downtown Hanoi.

The film competition will also feature an exclusive premiere of flicks created by three acclaimed filmmakers, Nguyen Hoang Dung, Nguyen Hoang Diep and Vietnamese-American director Bao Nguyen.

Diep’s “Dap Canh Giua Khong Trung” (Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere) won Best Film in the International Critics’ Week – a program for debut films at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival – as well as a handful of other international prizes.

Nguyen’s debut long documentary “Live from New York!” was selected to open the Tribeca Film Festival, one of the US’s largest annual independent events, in April.

These three directors also sit on the WildFest jury.

Famed Vietnamese actress Hong Anh, Vietnamese-American director Charlie Nguyen, newspaper editor Anh Tuan and video jockey Thuy Minh have been named WildFest ambassadors.

WildFest is part of Operation Game Change (OGC), which is a joint alliance between Vietnam and the US to have broad appeal and influence the public regarding illegal wildlife issues in Vietnam, particularly to stop rhino horn trafficking.

“We want WildFest to encourage creative approaches to tackling the illegal wildlife trade, and would like to encourage anyone who is passionate about using films to make a difference to enter this competition,” Lisa Bess Wishman, representative of the US Embassy, said at a recent workshop in Hanoi within the OGC framework.

Sulma Warne, deputy director of Asia-based Freeland Foundation, the OGC’s co-organizer, said that apart from rhinos, he encourages WildFest filmmakers to also focus on humans’ devastating power against other breeds, including wood and certain flora varieties.

Freeland is a frontline organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery.

“I really don’t want to see a Vietnamese or Chinese flag erected where a rhino is killed. People at seminars on rhinos often ask if any participants are Vietnamese, which really upsets me,” Nguyen My Dung, a trained Vietnamese filmmaker and wildlife protector with loads of experience in interacting with wildlife in South Africa, revealed at one of the workshops.

Under the OGC campaign, governments, NGOs, students, and celebrities from Vietnam, the US, and South Africa are working  together to curb the illegal trade in rhino horn while encouraging everyone to cease buying all endangered species.

The OGC will culminate with a nationally televised event and concert in September to coincide with World Rhino Day (September 22).

According to Freeland Foundation, China, the US, and Vietnam are three countries that lead the world in consuming products coming from the illegal trade of wildlife.