RMIT design students are jubilant that their short movie, In Rhythm, has won the Vietnam Heart Award in the YXINE Film Festival*.
Awarded for the best local and international Vietnamese film by a press critic panel, the Vietnam Heart is one of the festival’s five awards.
Director Bui Nguyen Dieu An said she and her two fellow film-makers in the time-based media course within the Bachelor of Multimedia Design degree were bowled over by the win.
“It was so unexpected to be chosen from 11 nominees because some of them were professional film makers,” she said.
The final year students believe their film may have been chosen because it was different from its competition.
“Most films have a plot and characters and conflict but ours was conceptual so we delivered it in a different way,” Ansaid.
“And there was no conflict in our film – we tried to show humanity in harmony.”
In Rhythm has the time-honoured theme of the ability of individuals to exist while performing the dance of life with every other human being.
“I was inspired by a video clip of flamingoes dancing in the mating season,” Ansaid.
“It made me think about how people are different – but we are all humanly connected.”
After having the initial idea the film-makers took a month to plan; shooting took three days.
But it was not simple.
Ho Chi Minh City residents will be thrilled to see city locations featured in the seven-minute film; lecturer Paul Smith describes the film as “using the pulse of the city juxtaposed with the lives and struggles of citizens of Saigon”.
But a large section performed by spotlight dancer Doan Vu Minh Thu from Arabesque Dance Company needed particular facilities.
“We built a studio in an abandoned building, lining it in black cloth to create a dark stage and setting up lights,” cinamatographer Vu Duy Quang said.
“With only three people we all had to do a lot of jobs.”
The month of film-making was intense; the three students virtually lived at producer Van Pham Nhat Lan’s house near their makeshift studio.
“We shared our lives and work; talk about the film only ended when we fell asleep,” Lan said.
Lan’s lesson from the project was the importance of pre-production; filming ran smoothly because of the team’s planning, comparing favorably with another project where rushed planning caused problems.
For Quang, the film’s success opened his eyes to his life’s possibilities: “Before, I hadn’t thought I could build a studio and work perfectly there.”
And An now knows what her future will hold.
“I was overwhelmed when I saw the film on a big screen; it looked brilliant,” she said.
“It has given me the faith to move on with a career in film-making.”
(*) The YXINE Film Festival has shown Vietnamese online international short films since 2010. Its audience target is young independent filmmakers and cinema lovers.