Ho Chi Minh City International Film Festival (HIFF) Concludes with “Perfect Days” and Celebrates the Finest in Film

April 13, 2024

Ho Chi Minh City, 13 April 2024 – The curtain fell on the Ho Chi Minh City International Film Festival (HIFF) with a dazzling array of stars and films being honored at the grand closing ceremony held at the iconic Opera House. This year’s festival, marked by a week-long celebration of cinematic excellence, concluded with the prestigious HIFF awards, acknowledging the outstanding talents of the film industry in Southeast Asia and beyond. The festival has rapidly become an exciting platform for regional and global cinema, thanks to the focused attention and timely direction from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, the Department of Culture and Sports, and the Contemporary Art Performing Center in collaboration with Vietfest. HIFF 2024 closing ceremony at the Opera House features the highly anticipated screening of “Perfect Days”, attended by the film’s co-producers.

“Perfect Days”, a film that captivated audiences and critics alike, was the fitting finale to the festival, reflecting the event’s theme of bridging the narratives of Southeast Asia with global cinema. The presence of the film’s co-producers added a layer of grandeur to the proceedings and provided an opportunity for festival-goers to engage with the makers of this cinematic gem.

The awards ceremony was a highlight of the festival, honoring a diverse array of talents. In a spectacular celebration of film and culture, “The Gospel of the Beast” directed by Sheron Dayoc took home the coveted Golden Star Award for Best Southeast Asian Film. Nicole Midori Woodford’s “Last Shadow at First Light” received the Southeast Asian Film – Jury Prize, showcasing the region’s powerful narratives.

Emerging talents were spotlighted as Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir with “City of Wind” and Ali Kalthami for “Night Courier” were both recognized as Emerging Filmmakers, heralding the arrival of fresh and compelling voices in cinema.

The Best Short Film was awarded to “Leila” by Fariba Haidari, with “Alien 0089” by Valeria Hofmann garnering the Best Short Film – Jury Prize. Celebrating the host city’s local storytelling, “Song Lang” received the Best Ho Chi Minh City Film award.

The awards for the main categories were equally distributed among a diverse set of films. “Oasis of Now” directed by Chee Sum Chia took the spotlight with awards for Best Director and Best Actress for Tạ Thị Dịu. Mark Lee’s performance in “Wonderland” secured him the Best Actor accolade.

Last Shadow at First Light” continued its winning streak with awards for Best Cinematography by Hideho Urata, Best Screenplay by Nicole Midori Woodford, and Best Visual Effects by Laokoon VFX. Yuji Wantanabe was lauded for Best Original Score with “Blue Imagine,” while Peter Yu and Rawipa Srisanguan received the Best Supporting Actor and Actress awards, respectively.

In the technical realm, “13 Bombs” exploded with recognition, earning Wahyu Tri Pournomo the Best Sound Design award and Hendra Adhi Sussanto the Best Editing accolade. The stagecraft and period detail of “Tenement” were recognized with Jean-Sien Kin receiving the Best Production Design award.

With close to 100 films showcased—most of them premiering for the first time in Vietnam—HIFF highlighted three global premieres: Germany’s “Dearest Duc,” “Dead Boy Clubs,” and “Home Is Where The Starfruit Tastes Sour.” Additionally, “Bolero” and “It’s Okay” debuted in Asia, while the closing film “Perfect Days” was screened following its Oscar participation. The festival also featured the digitalized screenings of the renowned Vietnamese classics “Mùa len trâu,” celebrating its 20th anniversary, and “Cánh đồng hoang,” enriching the festival lineup and offering Vietnamese youth a chance to engage with the country’s cinematic heritage.

HIFF not only celebrates the achievements of this year’s cinematic showcases but also honors the lifetime achievements of acclaimed director Kore-eda Hirokazu at the Opera House. The Directorial Symphony, a tribute to his distinguished body of work, followed by a comprehensive three-hour workshop led by Hirokazu himself.

In recognition of his contributions to the film industry, Kore-eda Hirokazu was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Recognition amidst a night of celebration and retrospection of his illustrious career. The workshop led by Hirokazu, which is already garnering significant interest, promises to be an enriching experience for aspiring filmmakers and enthusiasts alike.

The festival has been graced by the presence of renowned VIP guests, jury members, and workshop speakers, including luminaries such as Kim Dong Ho, Tom Cross, Kim Jee-woon, Kim Han-min, Jeawoon Choi, Olivier Pere, Jeremy Kessler, Lonar Tee, Jack Nguyen, Phillip Van, Bao Nguyen, Bao Tran, Janice Chua, Yuni Hadi, Nguyen Vo Nghiem Minh, Jacob Wong, Samuel Jamier… Their presence has not only added prestige to the event but has also provided invaluable insights during various festival discussions and seminars.

The festival took place across 13 indoor cinemas and two distinctive outdoor venues, Nguyen Hue Walking Street and Cine Park Thu Duc, with nearly 200 screenings, including 14 special outdoor ones, garnering widespread public interest. Over 20,000 moviegoers attended the screenings, and more than 250,000 participated in festival activities, with millions more following online and on HTV.

During its eight-day run, HIFF organized 73 events, 14 seminars, and 10 specialized classes, attracting nearly 200 international guests from major film industries worldwide. These events not only offered networking and learning opportunities but also facilitated production cooperation and development between Vietnam and international partners. HIFF has proven to be a memorable film event, signifying the relentless growth of Vietnamese cinema and affirming Ho Chi Minh City’s position as a vibrant cultural and artistic hub.

The festival has made a strong impression not only in scale but also in professional quality through its activities. The selection committee’s excellent curation brought to HIFF high-quality works previously featured at various international film festivals, offering diverse perspectives on contemporary life’s issues across different geographies and political systems. The showcased films evoked empathy without fanfare, leaving deep impressions and thought-provoking experiences for the audience.

The festival also focused on deep professional contributions from international speakers from major film industries such as France, the United States, South Korea, and Japan. Notable guests, including chairpersons and directors of international film festivals, engaged in discussions about new production partnerships and technical knowledge transfer. Particularly noteworthy was the participation of overseas Vietnamese professionals who have succeeded in the film industry and returned home to explore collaborative production opportunities.

HIFF’s first edition, though not yet concluded, has already achieved impressive numbers, confirming the event’s resounding success. However, some points for improvement were noted to enhance future operations. The organizers aim to address technical issues in film projection, optimize networking session schedules to avoid impacting screenings, and minimize event rescheduling to reduce inconvenience for film delegations and support teams.

Another key aspect highlighted is the need for long-term investment in recruiting and training volunteers to truly represent HIFF as ambassadors, bringing enthusiasm and hospitality to the forefront.

For more details on the festival, award winners, and the closing ceremony, please contact the HIFF Press Office at hiff@vietfest.vn.