Vietnamese film to vie for award at Berlinale

Vietnamese movie Miền Ký Ức (Memoryland) by female director Bui Kim Quy will have its European premiere at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival, which takes place from February 10 to 20.

The 99-minute movie will vie for the award at the "Forum" – a programme independently curated and organised by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, as part of the Berlinale.

The programme aims to expand the understanding of what film is, test the boundaries of convention and open up fresh perspectives in cinema and how it relates to the world in new ways.

The Vietnamese entry movie will have five screenings, including on February 14, 15, 17 and 19.

Using a chain of interrelated stories, Quy’s second feature explores attitudes towards death in Vietnam.

The film opens with the death of a mother. Although her heartbeat stops, her consciousness continues, worrying about her son and blessing him.

Her neighbour digs a grave near the house in the field, but the son insists on cremation. Because he does not receive much inheritance, he must be careful budgeting for the funeral.

Another man is killed by an accident at a construction site. His wife is suddenly widowed but decides to go to her husband’s hometown to bury him. His relatives, however, doubt her sincerity, as she is young and beautiful.

The film news website Screendaily wrote of the film: “Ritual and practicality, harmony and discord, fond wishes and hard choices all compete in the struggle to achieve a lasting peace for the dear departed."

“Hanoi is a clutter of construction sites, traffic jams, and looming apartment blocks that crowd the sky and choke the roots of what once was there. In the end, perhaps Vietnam itself has become a memoryland.”

Last October, the movie was shown in the "News Currents" category at the 2021 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and received much acclaim for its artistic plot and poetic images.

"The film’s clarity, focus and eloquence come from poetic images of decay, crisply captured by cinematographer Đặng Xuân Trường. Rotted fruit, fallen leaves, a bowl of rice swarming with ants, broken pots, empty buildings, fading portraits on a weathered wall, collapsed roofs and abandoned villages all speak to the absence of something that was once vital and alive," the Screendaily commented.

Quy, born in 1983, is a screenwriter and director who majored in screenwriting at the Hanoi University of Theatre and Cinema. Before her directorial debut, she wrote several screenplays for feature films.

She also directed short films such as Mattress (2002), Why Is There No Moon During the Daytime (2006), and The New Year’s Eve (2006).

Her first feature film, The Inseminator (2014), was shown in the ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’ section at the Busan International Film Festival 2014 and won the Best Film Photography Award at the 2015 ASEAN International Film Festival.

Her second feature Memoryland was supported by the Script Development Fund at the ASEAN Cinema Fund Busan 2016.