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Feb 27, 2024 / 17:47

Hanoi director wins 74th Berlinale Film Award

In this award-winning film, talented young director Pham Ngoc Lan tells the story of family relationships and the complex intertwining of Eastern and Western cultures in contemporary Vietnamese society.

The 92-minute drama film "Cu li Never Cries" by young Vietnamese director Pham Ngoc Lan, born in 1986, has won the "Best First Feature" award at the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale).

A scene from the Vietnamese film "Cu li Never Cries" by Pham Ngoc Lan.

Speaking at the awards ceremony in Berlin on 26 February, the director said the Berlinale was a great opportunity for young directors to express their unique personalities.

"The Berlinale Award is very important for us because it helps us to spread a different perspective on a small country like ours, and thanks to it, this way of seeing won't disappear. This award has strengthened my belief that the Berlinale will always support and never forget multicolored but marginalized voices," he said.

Born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam, Lan is a self-taught filmmaker. His short films have been screened twice at the Berlinale, with "Another City" in 2016 and "Blessed Land" in 2019. "Cu li Never Cries" is his debut feature film.

The film features People's Artist Minh Chau and young underground actors such as Ha Phuong, Xuan An and Hoang Ha.

The awards ceremony at the 74th Berlin International Film Festival. Photo: Coolie Never Cries Facebook

"Cu li Never Cries" shows the young director's perspective on the family and social entanglements between Eastern and Western cultures, in which a strange animal (the pygmy slow loris) is the plot twist that leads the story.

The film tells the story of Nguyen (played by Minh Chau) and her family. After picking up the ashes of her long-estranged husband in Germany, the woman returns to her home in Vietnam. In her luggage is a pygmy slow loris, a species of primate from the Vietnamese rainforest, which she inherited from the deceased. The woman's young niece is preparing for her wedding, as she is already pregnant. Having never thought about marriage before, the young couple are anxious about their uncertain future together.

The film received positive feedback from the jury and international film critics. "The present in which the characters live and the complex echoes of Vietnamese history intertwine in a contemplative and poetic way," commented the official website of the Berlin International Film Festival at www.berlinale.de.

Hanoi film director Pham Ngoc Lan honored at Berlinale 2024.

According to Matthew Joseph Jenner of ICS News, director Pham Ngoc Lan weaves a strange but compelling tale of identity and grief in this offbeat drama about contemporary Vietnamese society, which is far more complex than audiences might first imagine.

"We are taken on a journey into the ambiguous space between the past and the present, and given unfettered glimpses of Vietnamese culture as seen through a few different perspectives that work together to create a holistic picture of a country constantly caught between a challenging past and a promising future," he wrote.

The Berlin International Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. Now in its 74th year, the Berlinale showcases a wide range of international films, including feature films, documentaries and short films.

This year, the festival's top prize, the Golden Bear, went to Dahomey by Franco-Senegalese director Mati Diop.