Vietnam’s First Ho Chi Minh City Int’l Film Festival Wraps With Prizes For ‘The Gospel Of The Beast’, ‘Last Shadow At First Light’

June 23, 2024

The Gospel Of The Beast, directed by the Philippines’ Sheron Dayoc, picked up the Golden Star Award for Best Southeast Asian Film at the first edition of the Ho Chi Minh City International Film Festival (HIFF) in Vietnam

Nicole Midori Woodford’s Singapore-Japan collaboration, Last Shadow At First Light, won multiple awards in the festival’s Southeast Asia competition, including the Jury Prize, best cinematography (Hideho Urata), best screenplay (Nicole Midori Woodford) and best visual effects (Laokoon VFX). 

Oasis Of Now, directed by Malaysia’s Chee Sum Chia, took awards for best director and best actress for Vietnam’s Tạ Thị Dịu, who plays an immigrant in the film. Singaporean drama Wonderland won awards for best actor (Mark Lee) and best supporting actor (Peter Yu), while best supporting actress to Rawipa Srisanguan for Thailand’s Solids By The Seashore

Indonesian action drama 13 Bombs was awarded with best sound design (Wahyu Tri Pournomo) and best editing (Hendra Adhi Sussanto). Cambodian drama Tenement won best production design (Jean-Sien Kin) while Japan-Philippines co-production Blue Imagine took best original score (Yuji Wantanabe). 

Best film in the First or Second Film Competition (for films from outside Southeast Asia) went to Mongolia’s Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir for City Of Wind and Saudi filmmaker Ali Kalthami for Night Courier. Best short film was awarded to Leila, from Fariba Haidari, with Alien 0089 from Valeria Hofmann taking the Jury Prize. Song Lang was presented with the Best Ho Chi Minh City Film award.

The festival, which ran April 6-13, was made possible by a recent change to Vietnam’s Cinema Law enabling local city governments to host film festivals for the first time. It was organised by Ho Chi Minh City government and private events company Vietfest, which also organises music, design and manga festivals in Vietnam. 

Festival toppers include executive director Pham Minh Toan, deputy executive director Do Hoa, artistic director Nguyen Vinh Son and deputy artistic director Aaron Toronto, with Anderson Le as head of programming.

HIFF also incorporated an existing industry event, Autumn Meeting, which presented 15 projects to potential partners and investors, and a script lab headed by filmmakers Charles Nguyen and Phan Gia Nhat Linh, which selected ten Vietnamese projects. 

Autumn Meeting, which usually takes place in Danang in November, was founded by producer Tran Thi Bich Ngoc and director Phan Dang Di, and has Cannes winning director Tran Ang Hung (The Taste Of Things) as a regular mentor.