Hanoi International Film Festival (HANIFF) is back to showcase some of the world’s best-rated and most cinematic films. The biennial event, which was last held in 2020 before the COVID lockdowns in Vietnam, brings together filmmakers and film enthusiasts in one venue to celebrate the art of cinema.
For this year’s event, HANIFF bears the slogan, “Cinema for Humanities, Adaptability and Development.”
Tran Sy Thanh, Chairman of Ha Noi People's Committee said during the event kickoff that HANIFF's mission is to promote the spirit of humanity and cooperation among filmmakers.
“The Festival will also be an opportunity for Vietnamese cinema to expand and integrate with the regional and global markets,” he said.
This year, there are 123 films from 56 countries and territories, including 11 movies and 20 short films. In addition, 7 films in the Korean Cinema Spotlight program, 63 films in the World Cinema Panorama program, and 22 contemporary Vietnamese films also participated.
From Tuesday to Saturday this week, multiple showings are hosted from 10 am to 9 pm, featuring outstanding works at three different cinemas in Hanoi: National Cinema Center, BHD Pham Ngoc Thach, and CGV Vincom Nguyen Chi Thanh.
Some of the most notable films in this year’s festival are: Jasmine (Vietnam), Maika - The girl from another planet (Vietnam), Burning (South Korea), Paloma (Brazil), and What Went Wrong? (Spain/Mexico).
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join a screening of three short films at the National Cinema Center. They were SPiRAL, Stolen Moon, and Forward Drive. The showing started with the Finnish short film - Spiral. The audience is introduced to two old school friends — Anna and Jasmine. Anna is teaching ballet to the daughter of Jasmine, her bully in the past. The director shows us the development of Anna’s character as a ballet mentor and as a person, going from sincerely caring for her student to slowly being tough on the girl.
Out of the three movies, Ukraine-produced Stolen Moon is the only animated movie. Although it is a movie for children, the storyline was a little bit difficult to grasp and follow, with long dialogues between characters. Nonetheless, the message it conveys is beautiful, believing that good will eventually win over evil.
The last film is a work from Sri Lanka, taking the central theme around the LGBTQ+ community when a famous cricketer's sexual orientation becomes the subject of public attention. He is made fun of by his teammates, scolded by his sister, and is even at the risk of ending his career as advertisement contracts are being pulled out. The film does a good job of establishing the main character’s struggles and difficulties. The film, however, ended so abruptly with the main character and his partner meeting his mother for the first time. As a viewer, I would have loved more scenes to see how the meetup turns out.
Overall, it is a novel experience to participate in my first film festival and encounter movies from countries whose film industries I have not known before. There is still a day left to join one of the biggest film festivals in Vietnam. You can check the screening schedules here.