Experiencing Interruptions?

Whore

We are looking for a worldwide distributor for this special film... (Please contact email: director@dothanhan.com)
Why special?
- From December 28, 1895 to June 19, 2022 World Cinema has only 30 films (ONE SHOT- Continuous Shot-technique over 90 minutes) the film "Whore"(Kieu@) is the 31st film. Before "Kieu@" is the movie "Birdman" Oscar winner with a budget of 18M USD, revenue of 103M USD, "1917" winner Oscar with a budget of 95M USD with a revenue of 385M USD... ( Whore or (Kieu@) Participated in 8 international film festivals, won 10 international film awards, 1 nomination, 1 national record)...: Winner Best Director- Best Edit - Best Cinematographer (Montreal Independent Film Festival 2021). Monthly Selected Best Director (Around International Film Festival ARFF International // Paris Monthly Edition 2021 -ARFF International). Winner Best Art Film (Tokyo International Monthly Film Festival 2021). Honourable Mention Director (LA Independent Women Film Awards 5th Edition 2021). Winners (THE BUDDHA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2021)Best Foreign Language Film, BUDDHA Global Director Leadership Prize (Film-Making). Winner “Remi Silver Lone Star Award “ (The Houston International Film Festival 55th 2022). Nominee Best Experimental Film (International Film Festival ARFF International 2022//Paris 2022 Awards). Winner Best Directing (Montreal Independent Film Festival 2022)...
Kieu (or Thuy Kieu): is the name of a famous character in the poetic work "The Tale of Kieu" by the great poet Nguyen Du (1765-1820). "Kieu" or "Miss Kieu" is also a slang, used to refer to girls who are unfortuntate due to the lack of money, wanting to save their family,... have to accept a life of prostitution in Vietnam. "Kieu @" refers to modern girls who have are unfortunate, living at "the bottom" of modern society and taken advantage for prostitution, being despised, having no way out. This is The human dilemma that so many women have endured over the past 2500 years.

"Kieu@" tells about Huong's life through her sister's soul, which was temporarily released from the body, Phan. In the subconscious of a dead person, in resentment and resentment, Phan's soul searches for the past to find out why his sister pushed him to death.....

The woman’s suffering particularly, and the pain that we suffers generally, however different in social context and historical circumstances, are similar in some aspects despite the era-gap, especially in psychological problems. The message transcending throughout the film guides us toward the sacredness of sacrifice, sympathy and sharing from blood familiars, to overcome the hardship and obstacles in life together. Family means no one is left alone with their own pain.

The director Do Thanh An (Aaron Donald) approaches this project two years ago, but it took him over a year of pre-production preparation to start shooting, which explains enough the level of technical difficulty in the making production. He and his crew had had a challenging but exciting journey in making one-shot movies. This is Vietnamese first film to use the one-shot filming technique.
In the world, there are only two types of film generalized as one-shot film. The first type, is a movie which is shot in one take only; or to put it simply, the filming time equals the movie’s real time. Statistically, in this category there are about 35 films all over the world, with duration ranging from 57 to 145 minutes, of which 24 films lasts 90 minutes or more.

The second type is filmed in continuous shot, to produce a one-shot film after editing is done. This category has about 12 films, duration ranging 70 to 161 minutes, in which 6 of them lasts from 90 minutes and over. By these definition, Do Thanh An’s Kieu @ belongs in the second type, one filmed with continuous shot.
If you only count one-shot films that last over 90 minutes, then Kieu @ would be the 31st one-shot film in the world – based on Banker’s statistics on one-shot film production worldwide.
It is not that the one-shot techniques is too hard to film, but because making this kind of film is too costly and painstakingly tiring, therefore directors refrain from choosing it.

On the 200th anniversary from the passing of great poet Nguyen Du (1820-2020), we humbly present the world’s 31st one-shot featured film, and the first movie in Vietnam with duration of 108 minutes applying the one-shot storytelling techniques through continuous takes in its making. This is not a race to chase down superficiality, it is the story and plotline itself that requires special expression, because everything is inspired from a soul beginning its journey to escape this m¬ortal life.
Inspired by “Truyen Kieu” (The Story of Kieu), by the great poet Nguyen Du, the filmmakers wish to introduce a contemporary psycho-social story through the use of continuous-shot filming techniques.

THE FILM KIEU@ HAS BEEN CERTIFIED A VIETNAMESERECORD.
BY THE VIETNAM RECORD ASSOCIATION CENTRAL COMMITTEE - VIETNAM RECORD ORGANIZATION - VIETKINGS.
“Vietnam's Record "First Vietnamese Film to use (ONE SHOT- Continuous Shot) technique over 90 minutes" (Code:2569/KLVN/February 3, 2021)

What is a one-shot film?
Upon such comment, the director can only laugh it off. Now his wish for the film grows more ambitious, to prove to people that however mad he may be, he is definitely not a fussy snob to be reckless in pursuit of the first pure one-shot film in Vietnamese cinematic history.
To be fair, had you understood clearly what the one-shot filming technique is, you would see that every assumption circling the technique and its impossibility for a Vietnamese director and crew to execute in the current background, is not without reasons.
One-shot film is a kind of film in which everything shown on screen shows the film in a continuous sequence made of uninterrupted shots, filmed in one row and one camera shot only, uncut, unbroken midway.
There are two types of film commonly called by the name “one-shot”:
The first type is literally filmed in one shot only, meaning that the screening movie time is the same as actual filming time.
According to Ranker statistics, this category only consists of 24 full-length films with duration from 90 minutes and over.
The second category is film shot with continuous shooting (or continuous shot), so that post-production will wrap it up and edit into a single shot. In this category, there are only 6 films in the world to last 90 minutes and more.
Judging from the total number up until now, in the history of over 100 years of formation and development, world cinema only has roughly 30 one-shot movies in between hundreds or thousands of films ever having been shown. Honorable mentions are renowned films having made their names at Film Festival, earning prestigious international awards, such as: Russian Ark (directed by Alexander Sokurov), Fish & Cat (directed by Shahram Mokri), Victoria (directed by Sebastian Schipper), or of course, the legend Birdman (directed by Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu)…

Given such correlation to clarify, that the ratio of one-shot film compared to other genres of movies seems nothing but grains of salt dropped in the vast ocean. This is because the filming technique for one-shot movie is far too difficult, the risk is far too high for a full-length movie, duration of more than one hour and a half. For example, the German movie Victoria as mentioned above. For this masterpiece, the crew had to film it four times over and over, with each time lasting around 140 minutes. Finally, the film crew had chosen the final version to create the movie as shown to its audience. In the film credit, the DOP’s name Brandth Grøvlen was listed even before Director Sebastian Schipper, as a worthy tribute to his talents and contribution.

Another reason as to why many directors refuse to consider one-shot filmmaking for their cinematic works, is because of the expensive cost. It would be rare for an investor to bid in such a risky gamble, to spend at least 40 million USD on a project where the return rate is not in sight (let alone profit); therefore the question is left opened with a bubbling three continuous dots, waiting for an answer to be filled in.
Now, after 200 years, life may have changed, but have the miseries lied in the women’s fate been any different, or are they still the same, those poor fates? Is there any difference in the reasons pushing people into such damnation and depravation? Has the human nature changed any?
Among millions of those who have read Nguyen Du, fallen in love with “Truyen Kieu” for many generations through centuries till now, certainly there exists many people who have wondered the same questions correlating the two eras. Director Do Thanh An counts himself among them. However, unlike many people of the past time and nowadays, he answers these questions through the medium and language of modern cinema.

Such medium and language is no doubt hard to use, and to use it well requires much effort and expensive cost. The book you are holding in your hand is the director’s reflection on the journey of making a cinematic artwork and bringing a new filmmaking technique to the audience, with not much to gain in purpose, only wishing to reach sympathetic souls. Resonating with the art, and resonating with the life.

At the beginning of the project, director Do Thanh An predicted two contradicting reaction from the public press:
Firstly, as Vietnamese first one-shot film yet techniques far too fresh and limited, could Kieu @ be considered a snobbish wannabe, “all looks and no value” or not?

Secondly, even if it is clear that the film content has modernized “Kieu” from Nguyen Du’s original characteristics, would it be enough of a reason to avoid harsh and explicit comments from researchers and Kieu enthusiasts? Will the film Kieu @ be able to avoid cruel pickiness, cliché comparison between the modernized film and original literary masterpiece?

These projections upon the public’s reactions pointed out directly two huge problems, that from the very beginning phase of the project, the director has decided that a solution needs to present itself, from the formation of the script, the filming, post-production, as diligently as possible.

In 2014, one one-shot film made its debut to the public audience and began its journey to conquer all biggest awards of the cinematic world at that time: that is director Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu’s Birdman. The film launched fist screening at International Film Festival Venice 2014, where it was seen as formidable competitor to many others in the competition for the prestigious Golden Lion Award.

A year later, 2015, Birdman swept through the American Academy Awards. With 9 nominations, Birdman won in four most important categories: Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinemaphotography.

Not only was is successful in terms of huge reputation, the film was a huge success in terms of revenue when it brought its producer 103 million USD, exceeding the production budget which was only 18 million USD.
While Birdman is earning its repute in the capital of world cinema, on the other side of the globe, in the S-shaped country, a goat hotpot restaurant on Le Thi Ha Street, Hoc Mon, Saigon, two people excitedly discussed it over their meal.

They are director Do Thanh An and cinematographer Truong Tuan. They constantly wondered the same question: why does the film need to have such an angle, how should the scenes be done? When he learnt that the technique is called “one-shot” movie, Do Thanh An couldn’t have hid his admiration, and told Truong Tuan that he then had the inspiration of making a one-shot film for Vietnamese cinematography. The cinematographer’s first response was: “You are mad!”. But Do Thanh An kept on relentlessly talking about his ambition. Finally he had succeeded in persuading his friend to join him in his voyage. They both sat back, researched and discussed the method and requirements to make a cinematic one-shot film, and of course how much it should cost them.
Persuading investors

Around six years ago, in Vietnam, the techniques and equipment for filming in Vietnam failed to attain the desirable effect like techniques used in Birdman. So however passionate their ambition was, to have an adequate approach is still a problem to be discussed.

Afterwards Do Thanh An started his script on Kieu @. Throughout the scripting process, the idea to film it in one shot never left this passionate director. So he decisively switched from writing a normal script to a one-shot script.

He shared this idea to his former mentor – Associate Professor, Dr. Do Lenh Hung Tu. Like Truong Tuan, his mentor told him that he was mad. Because any one-shot film in hope of success worldwide required a budget up to tens of millions of dollars at least.
The reason behind such high budge was because, filming one-shot requires much more advanced equipment and technology than other conventional films. For example, to be able to relay a continuous sequence, from the shots filmed by flycam drone, to ones filmed by a handheld grounded camera, takes an android in the middle to detect each and every pixels. When the drone camera reaches a stop, this android will automatically disconnect and turn on the handheld grounded camcorder. The cost to hire this android and a team of nearly one dozen foreign experts to operate it everyday has already reached hundreds of thousands of dollars, an incredible figure in comparison with the financial mobility of Vietnamese filmmakers even now.

Director Do Thanh An is no exception. He wanted to raise as much money as he could, but in Vietnamese context at that time, convincing investors is not that simple a task. Even when he found investor, presented his projects, successfully established a crew, the doubtful investor countered his argument and tried persuading him, “Please, film it the normal way mister An, one-shot is too risky.”
But the director’s determination is clear, that if he was not allowed to film it in one-shot, he would withdraw his project, use his own money to pay the newborn crew, and find other investors who would approve his method.
Finally, the original investor had to give in, so that the director can freely work on his bold and crazy idea.

Why one-shot would make the best effect?
When making this movie, everyone is inevitably doubtful about the possibility of success with the one-shot technique. Can’t be helped when Do Thanh An seems to be the pioneer in this matter. Many senior directors have succeeded with hundreds of billions in revenue, a few others have made their names with artistic movie in Vietnam; and yet none of them has any idea about making a movie in one shot sequence. With members of the film crew, these two words are still far too unfamiliar.

Therefore, after persuading the investors, the director has to persuade his crew as well.

Before deciding to film in one shot, director Do Thanh An has watched many one-shot films over and over, realizing that most of those count themselves among that 30 films achieving prestigious international awards. And all of which have one thing in common, first of all, it shows the audience the reason why only the one-shot filming technique is able to transcend the idea, and not others. Victoria or Birdman are the two significant examples for this argument. Clearly, the one-shot techniques creates better film effects than other conventional method for these two.

About why one-shot film failed under other conventional movies in the competition for awards, then the first criteria to assess is that the movie itself cannot explain why the film must be filmed the way it is. While other conventional filming techniques applied to the same plotline would create a better effect. A significant example is the failure of 1917 compared to Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite in the race for Oscar 2019 Best Film nominee. Studying these films, Do Thanh An figured that the problem was, 1917 would achieve better effect had it been filmed in its normal conventional way.
So, what is the story to Kieu @ that its direct/screenwriter is so hung up on filming it in a one-shot sequence?

Why?
After Phan’s cardiac arrest, the whole scene recreates the past from the POV (point of view) of a ghost. A ghost full of skepticism and resentment, and the moviegoers can easily figure out the emotional sequence as the scene is soaring nine clouds high in one scene, then immediately closes up to the characters in another, maybe wanders back to the alley, or drifts along the water in a swift motion sequence… The ghost does not stop moving, not for a second of silence to rest.

According to Buddhism concept, when a person dies, the soul will exist in a non-body intermediate state. This is a transitional phase between the time when that soul leaves the body after dying, and having not yet passed on into another life. The intermediate state, or the soul of the person whom just died, will follow his or her own karma of the previous life, roaming the earth in an undetermined route. By this concept, the director let this soul move constantly and ceaselessly through the gravitation of the past, which has eaten into the deep subconscious as what deems reasonable and logical.

From the soul’s POV, continuous and uninterrupted, without a second character’s perspective, director Do Thanh An believes that there is no other reasonable way to shoot the film than the one-shot technique. He is also ambitious about Kieu @ being the pioneer in Vietnam’s cinematic industry, that after Kieu there will be a new concept: The soul shot, or The soul one-shot.
We are all familiar with the human characters’ POVs before, and oftenly films are edited in one or more perspectives, with the storytelling language moving in the following frame sequence: close up – mid-range – panoramic – specification. Yet nearly no one in Vietnam has the idea of creating a new shooting angle, a different perspective. Therefore, Do Thanh An hopes that his movie will be able to pull that off. This is a welcoming expectation. Because art is “the ringing of the bell, not the bell itself”. Artworks needs to make a difference. If no difference is made, true art hasn’t revealed.

In fact, Do Thanh An is not the first person to think about creatively filming from a ghost’s POV. 16 years ago, the world’s first 90-minute one-shot film – Russian Ark – also used the perspective of a ghost to film. But the difference between camera angle in Kieu @ and Russian Ark is tremendous. In the Russian pioneering film, the ghost only looks horizontally and floats through the rooms in the Winter Palace. As for Kieu @, the Vietnamese pioneering film, with a different religious conception of dead people’s souls between the East and the West, Do Thanh An gives his soul character a multidimensional perspective. By combining his staff and more modern technology, he is allowed to perform the scenes seen through the POV of an Eastern soul, filled with emotions, happiness, anger, love and hatred; and what difference it makes the effects, combining flycam and handheld camcorder.
Hopefully all of these will be accepted and welcome by the audiences and professionals alike, just like how the world cinema has embraced and taken interest in the concept of “the American shot”, or “the cowboy shot”.

“The American shot” is roughly understood as the American medium. That is because American shot is a special kind of medium angle shot in film, Usually, for normal medium shots the camcorder will frame the character cut close from the waist up and leave a gap over his head. This is the most popular angle shot. But American cowboy-themed filmmakers, whose gunfights have become a specialty in the world cinema, daringly frame their subjects from the character’s gun holster (which is below the waist few inches). This boldness makes sense because it describes perfectly the brutal nature of gunfights. It is a super American scene. Gradually this concept spreads among filmmakers around the world. Whenever there is a gunfight scene that draws a gun from a holster, “American shot” will definitely be used by cinematographer.
Director Do Thanh An’s ambition when creating the soul shot must have resonate with the father of the American shot. From here on out, Vietnamese cinema has no reason not to proudly announce the soul shot our quintessential essence. The problem here is waiting for a proper push, as well as positive feedback from audiences and experts when Kieu @ the movie officially makes its launch nationwide.

The script for “the soul shot”
Normally, a movie script should not use the one-shot technique. That is a fact. If we review other one-shot movies that have won in international festivals, we can easily see that one-shot technique is mostly suitable for films of action genres. Long shots with no cut-in transitions will create more vivid and realistic effects for action scene than conventional cinematography and post-production sequences. Lively and realistically, so apart from actors’ acting ability, the first and foremost importance is still the script, and whether it is good enough to make an impressive film or not?
In fact, it was not until one-shot film had a bad plotline that the script structure became a problem to be mentioned. Because the script itself is the essence, the original framework for a cinematographic works. Before, the search for a good and suitable script has always been a headache for passionate filmmakers. In our nationwide cinematic, there poses a shortage of good scripts. At the end of each year, when reading domestic film review articles, we always encounter complaints from critics and experts on the first reason why movies quality is a total failure despite being carefully and generously invested; because the problem poses itself at the very beginning: the script stage. Sayings like “without good materials, good products are unable to achieve”, “to escape a cinematic industry in which the content has grown old and cliché, where does cinematographer and screenwriter stand?” has become boring excuses told so many times that audiences and people of cinematic interest have no longer cared about.
Putting the matter that far back only to return to the problem with Kieu @’s one-shot script. Inspired by Nguyen Du’s “Truyen Kieu”, which was a type of dramatic romance, the film counted itself as a type of dramatic film, how will the storyline build the element of action? Is it really required for the script to have an action element long enough to delight viewers in this one-shot movie?
Answer: the main action factor lies primarily from the soul angle shot. This is a soul full of joy, rage, love and hate, full of doubts and hidden corners, so it is constantly on the move, the angle also constantly changing for a shift of perspective in the dimension of the eye. The effects of continuously moving angle of long shots will certainly delight widescreen audiences.

Huong – The two-in-one character:
It should come in no surprise for the director to take care of his character Huong so carefully – for she is his protagonist, Kieu @’s protagonist. Huong, played by Phan Thi Mo, is not only the model for modernized Kieu, but also a subject for the screenwriter to discuss and criticize the archetypal Kieu in Doan truong tan thanh.
Huong in the film is a young woman, who has just stepped out from high school, left her poor hometown to come to prosperous Saigon to study, longing for an opportunity to change her life. In the immaturity of adolescence, she met Dinh – the modernized Ma Giam Sinh – and thought she had met the love of her life. From then on, she was lured into the path of selling herself, her talents and beauty, becoming a commodity for Dinh to exchange with the big guys, and at the same time a debtor to dangerous sharks; behind which was of course, Dinh.
Kieu in Nguyen Du’s literary work suffered greatly from circumstances, had to sell herself for the money in exchange for her father’s life; so the circumstances that pushed Kieu’s decision was a force of fate that cannot be stopped and there was no other way. But for Huong in Kieu @ is different, she is drawn by temptation of a promising glamorous life, only to fall into depravation, becoming Huong Lucky (the nickname given to her by her rich customers, for every night spent on her sensual flesh and body felt like a blessing for businesses). Momentarily, from an innocent country girl, Huong turned herself into a hooker. The circumstances that bring classical archetypes and modernized character into this corrupted path are different, yet in nature, they are somewhat similar. Both are teenagers, young and beautiful, gullible to honeyed words, having never had any experience of independent living before being separated from the protection of the family. Both of them committed to acts of revenge when possible, both chose to take their own lives at the river, in hope that the water would cleanse the filth of their lives.
After all, the end for modernized Kieu is also different. The archetype was approved an union with her family after fifteen years of wandering. In Do Thanh An’s version, Huong is “united” again with his father and sister after her own death. Her heart beats in her sister’s ribcage, and her eyes bring back light to her father whose eyes were no longer functioning.
After learning that his daughter worked a disgraceful job, Huong’s father disowned her. But in the end, her eyes helped him see the world better, and possibly from her viewpoint. Perhaps, had the parent not put themself in their child’s shoes, then their love would never suffice true empathy to share with the child. Had parents put themselves in children’s shoes, then would the protagonist’s tragedy of being tempted with glamorous rich life, have been avoided somehow?

Likewise, the character Phan always suspects that it was her sister the one who stole her two lovers. Previously Dinh, then Tung. But until Huong’s heart beats in Phan’s chest, sustaining her life, she then finally feel, how vast the boundless love her sister left for her, never leaving her side until the end of this life.
The film director/screenwriter has worked hard just to formulate these two humanistic metaphors. Huong’s heart in her sister’s chest is a metaphor of love, while Huong’s eyes in her father’s sockets is metaphor of sharing perspectives and a new understanding.

Huong in Kieu @ is the messenger, a warning sign for karma exists in human lives. People pay for their sins, even with their own lives. Yet most importantly, in all hardship she still retains her most precious quality, human’s most treasured emotion: love. Even if blind romance between men and women corrupts her, love still helps her, even though she died, that love will live forever through her blood relatives. The story of this character is also an awakening warning for parents. Their mistakes and indifference sometimes are the reason that inadvertently push their children into abyss of despair.
Not only was she an interpretation of an classic literary character, Huong of Kieu @ also portray another iconic character: the Dam Tien of modern times. Indeed, Huong, after damning herself to the depraved life of a hooker, painted on her back the image of Marilyn Monroe – who was the most notorious and yet the most famously ill-fated female star in Hollywood history. Monroe was popularized all over the world as a Grade A superstar, the muse of the world’s greatest cinematic industry. But behind camera, her life was full of hardship and tragedies. Abandoned by her parents at a young age, then haunted by rape trauma, Monroe married and remarried three times, became lover for many rich men, whom were all big men in their suits, reputed giants in their politic careers at that time. Eventually, she chose to take her own life at the age of 36.
Monroe was a real-life character in the West, whose fate was quite similar to Nguyen Du’s character – Dam Tien of the East - 200 years ago.
Director Do Thanh An is very implicit when he put the drawing image of Monroe on Huong’s upper-back. Huong has tattooed this lady of great talents yet ill fate on her, accidentally “tattooed” on her own fate with projections full of storms and tragedies she was unable to foresee.

Looking back at Huong of kieu@, we can see better the fates of many children of our time, have a better understanding, a more engaging perspective to sympathize with these people.
Giving this role to Phan Thi Mo, director Do Thanh An shared: “I chose Phan Thi Mo as the leading lady because of her honest and innocent look at the audition had me convinced. Every personal factors happening within Huong of Kieu @ has been fulfilled through this beauty.”
When acting as Huong, Phan Thi Mo herself had to sacrifice a lot for the role. This character performs nude-bathing scenes in Saigon river (and Mo doesn’t know how to swim), soaks herself in a tub of ice-cold water for several minutes; sometimes the scenes made the actress tremble greatly, unable to act. But with the desire to make the most vivid and realistic movie frame, she broke her own limits and wholehearted morphed with the character.

Montage of Sex Scenes:
The term “montage” refers to an artistic mode, used to convey moments of a story. The images are overlapping, used to describe the events and tragedies that follow. Or, they are used to describe the character’s particularly complex emotional span and moods.
This technique is used by knowledgeable filmmakers to create hidden meanings, various perspectives to look from different angles of a story, a choice of a character’s action, of a scene.
In Kieu @, these montages attract audience with a segment depicting many lovemaking scenes performed by Huong in an extremely delicate way. More precisely, they should not be called lovemaking, but only sexual relationships. Because Huong during this time was nothing but a commodity, a sex object in these exchanges, love is not presented.

For Kieu@, this tactic shows contradictory or similar scenes following one another. One scene of suffering was repaid by one image of joy, one scene of momentary happiness for her family. This shows beyond the reason why she sold herself, sacrifice her body not for her own sake, but was forced to do so for others’ sakes, for her family, her parents and sister. How sad.

Phan – An opposite to the soundless Thuy Van
Tuyết nhường màu da (“Not even snow can compared to such white skin”)
Right at the beginning of the film, when the fortune teller read her Kieu tarot card, it was shown that the sister character – Phan of Kieu @, is the modernized model of Thuy Van. But in Nguyen Du’s original version, Thuy Van was nothing but a soundless character, unmentioned of neither her hidden memories nor her inner sufferings, that usually follow normal character’s psychology sequence. Thuy Van was just described as,
“Mây thua nước tóc, tuyết nhường màu da” (Hair softer than clouds, skin whiter than snow)
Married to her sister’s lover, only to return the husband to her when she returns. How convenient, and vain.

Phan in Do Thanh An’s version is different, so very different. In Kieu @, this sister character suffers such unlucky turnout, that she met, fell in love that ended in hate the two men her sister also loved and hated. From here, every emotions are pure innocence, actions out of sorrows conveying towards her sister, and so the film sequence unfolds itself. Phan is a promising role in Kieu @, and with this role, Cao Thai Ha became the perfect choice for the director.

The actress herself, however, felt a great deal of mental stress when she was chosen to play this role. Cao Thai Ha had starred in movies like Hau due mat troi, Tieng set trong mua, Ban chong,… the experience and acting capacity belonged to the actress born in 1990 is gradually being enforced. Even so, when asked to play Phan, she refused at first. Because the role was incredibly stressful, first from the hard role, second from the one-shot filmmaking technique.

Later on, her trust and respect for director Do Thanh An – whom had supported her acting greatly at the beginning stage of the actress’s career – she finally said yes.

Starring as Phan, Cao Thai Ha had cried many times because of the lack of focus and professionalism from her co-star, kept answering the phone, refused to focus on practicing lines and acting. Because this is filmed in one-shot, it only takes the actors one wrongful action, one forgotten line, few dozen minutes of the scene recorded until then are wasted and must be repeated from the beginning. The pressure placed upon the characters, and the pressure of the genre placed heavily on the actress’s shoulders, making her nervous and pushing her to give more than 100 percent. Once, she even passed out just like the Phan character she was playing.
It was the longest frame shot of the film, lasting about 30 minutes. Cao Thai Ha shared: “The scene was filmed on a high mountainous area in Da lat, the character I played had to run away from home to the bridge to call my sister’s name, then scream the bad news that my mother had passed away. I ran up very fast, mentally breathless and stressed when the mountainous temperature was too low to have enough oxygen to breathe. So I fainted. Everyone in the crew was confused because they didn’t know how to handle it, they applied some medicinal oil and took care of me. After having fainted for a few minutes, I woke up.”
Not to mention the actress’s extreme tolerance for hard work and stress, when she felt dissatisfied about a scene or a frame thinking it could have been better, she did not mind the cold, did not mind the rain, redid the scene again and again until it was satisfactory.
Therefore, it is entirely fair to say that Phan of Kieu @ is a modernized Thuy Van with a voice of her own; not only because the script had given the character much lines to say, but also thanks to Cao Thai Ha’s dedicated investment into the roleplaying of this character.

Symbol of the two butterflies
At the beginning and the end of the film, when the two sisters played Kieu Tarot to tell their fortune, two butterflies appeared. One red with white dots, and one white with red dots.
The white butterfly with red dots on wings was there with Huong on the night of Phan’s engagement, flew along with her as she walked over the bridge to lay by her mother’s tomb. This is the butterfly representing Phan’s spirit. The audience should be witnessing the rewind footage of Phan when she became a spirit after a cardiac arrest.
And the red butterfly with white dots on wings flew from Huong’s tomb all the way to the edge of horizon, where rainbow shone as every doubts, grudge and rage from Phan to her sister had all cleared away three years after Huong’s death. This is the butterfly representing Huong’s spirit.
If dear readers are interested in the meaning of colors, you would probably understand the profound intentions of illustrating the two butterflies with the colors of red and white. White is the hue of purity and chastity. Red is the color of suspicion and resentment. The red-dot white butterfly is a pure and innocent soul, not yet tainted by all the dirt of this world, yet deep within still holds doubts and grudges to the sister. Therefore this image was intentively chosen to represent her spirit, or more profoundly, to symbolize Phan’s soul just as the director wants it.
On the contrary, the white-dot red butterfly symbolizing Huong is reasonable. Her soul was crushed by the cruelty of life, by such resentments and injustices that couldn’t be shared with anyone while living and had to be carried all to the afterlife. However, as the great poet Nguyen Du said, “chữ trinh kia cũng có ba bảy đường” (chastity has three to seven meanings), deep within Huong’s soul, chastity and honesty always remains. The red butterfly with white dots flies towards the rainbow resembles the transcendence of a soul that has been removed from the injustice of human life in this temporary realm, filled with nothing but suffering and tragedy.

3 Bridges and the message behind:
This movie tells a human story, yet of course, there are always “characters” strongly voicing themselves with silence. One of which is: the bridges.
There are three symbol revolving around three bridges carefully built by the directors.
The first was the bridge, on which the parents went to see their children off as they left town for city.
The second was the bridge in front of Huong – Phan’s house, which witnessed both happiness and tragedy of the family.
And the last was the rainbow, appearing near the end of the movie.
The bridges do not only serve as natural background for the film, but they are also deeply metaphorical and withhold profound messages in each one of them.

The first bridge
In the film, the audience will catch the sight of Huong – Phan sisters walking over the bridges more than once, leaving hometown to the main road, catching buses to Saigon. Both of the farewells scene between the parents to their daughters happened on this same bridge. In East Asian culture, bridge represents the symbol of connection, connecting roads hindered by foreign objects.
Yet in Kieu @, the bridge has a different meaning. The first time Huong left her hometown for Saigon to study, her parents and sister went as far as the middle of the bridge to see her off waving. Never once their parents crossed the bridge or reached the other side to bid them farewells. They stood there in the middle of the bridge over the river, hands high waving their children off. As if they believed strongly, that they truly understood the daughters blood born and raised by them, that their children had grown to be capable of their own life. Oh how wrong they were, the truth is Huong and Phan’s parents knew next to nothing about their children, about the life awaiting them away from the family, nor the stormy seas beyond the bridge, the darkness of the world waiting to ambush them. They had never even crossed the bridge – to reach their children’s world, to share some thoughts and connect to their soul. Huong’s parents took their sophomore daughter’s money to build new house, Huong’s mother took her money for heart surgery; and not once had they wondered how their young daughter managed to make that much money. Only accidentally, but they have overlooked and ignored all the vicious traps laid out in the life in the city, from which their children had to bear and suffer.

The bridge now becomes a symbol of separation, it is a metaphor for the boundaries separating the worldview of the children’s and their parents’, and between familiars living under one roof. Huong couldn’t share her thoughts to her parents and younger sister. Nor could Phan share hers to mom and dad. All that life brought upon them, was theirs to take, to endure, to mourn in tragedy. The parents still remained on this side of the bridge, in a world where parents would still judge and pour blame on their children’s mistake. Had Huong’s father crossed the bridge only once, would his family and children have suffered from the same tragedy?
“Bên này cây cầu chưa hẳn bình yên / Bên kia cây cầu bão tố chực chờ”
(On this side, peace has not revealed / On the other side, storms lay wait)
This is the message that Kieu @’s birthfather wants to transcend to all parents nationwide. Please, be concern of the world of your child, connect to them with not only love but also understanding. Only with love and understanding could parents help their children not losing to life’s temptations and pitfalls.

The second bridge
This bridge appeared in the scene of Phan running off to announce Huong of mother’s death, and reappeared at the moment where both of the sisters were there standing, in Tung’s presence, right after the marriage ceremony, in the heart-wrenching complicacy of the sisterhood love triangle, full of injustice and mysteries.
It could be seen in the film, that all the big events and turnouts in the life of Huong – Phan’s family, happened on the bridges. Huong’s parents bid her farewell and eventually lost her here on the first bridge. Huong’s mother funeral and then Phan’s marriage ceremony also occurred on the second bridge.
Which makes the second bridge become the symbol of contrasts. Marriage and funeral, filial piety and bliss, grief and happiness of one same family all took place on this one same bridge. Here lies joy for one turned into ultimate misery for another; connecting one person’s blissful happiness to another’s extreme suffering.
In Phan’s wedding ceremony scene, if the audience pays enough attention, you should see the genius of musician Duc Tri, when he arranged the music for the movie scene. In Phan’s wedding, red ribbons signifying couple eternal happiness were hung on the bridge. But the musician chose such a peculiar choice for background track – it was the sound of drumrolls and flute of a necromancy. In other words, it’s music for ghosts. This shows a level of understanding and good communication between the musician and the director in this one scene. Phan’s wedding with Tung was the funeral for Tung and Huong’s love affair. How cruel and miserable was the scene including all three of them, Huong, Tung and Phan on the bridge. Tung’s calling “big sis”, Huong’s soul-crunching reply “brother-in-law”, was the culmination, the final trigger to Huong’s inner tragedy, as she was caught in this love triangle with her own sister.
If the first bridge was boundary between parents and children, then this second bridge cuts off the sisterhood between two blood sister. This bridge symbolized Phan’s doubts and grudges against her older sister, at the same time representing the injustice and unspoken love Huong eld for her younger sister. One bridge, two people on either side, with two different inner world, two far too different responding attitudes.

Purely Vietnamese from A to Z:
Perhaps no one is extreme enough or passionate enough in pursuit of the ultimate like the director of Kieu @ and the way he produced the film. So extreme he was that he wanted each and every associates involved in the making of this movie to be completely Vietnamese living on Vietnam land.
The cultural purity here is comprehended in all the stages of a creative production; from the script writing, film background, art director, cinematographer, film crew,… all of them must be Vietnamese at birth without any involvement of the foreign elements; even Vietnamese living overseas.
Such extreme element is a prideful effort in honoring the independence known as Vietnamese purity.
Inspired from an authentic pinnacle of Vietnamese literary
Since its inception more than 200 years ago, Truyen Kieu has become the soul of the Vietnamese. This brilliant work written in “lục bát” poetry style (Vietnamese traditional form of poetry, translated into ‘six eight’) has become the main topic raising discussion for thousands of book reviews and critiques. In addition, there are many other works based on the storyline and what happened, or how its various interpretation and adaptation. There are several works of which are in the cinematic field. These films, depending on the content, would earn different names: adaptations or conversions.
The open dictionary defines “a film adaptation” as an act of full or partial recreation of a work of art or a story into the means of featured film. Although it is often considered a form of derivative work, film adaptation has gradually been conceptualized by scholars as a method of dialogue. A common form of adaptation is using novels’ content to be the core for a film’s storyline. Or in other words, “adaptation is the act of converting an artwork (most likely literary or aesthetic work) into another art form on the basis of ensuring the spirit of the original work.”
“Conversion” is “adapting the content of an existing work, converting the work from one genre into another, to create a new version in a different mean of expression than that of the original work”. In the art of literary, it is rather common for authors to be inspired by the storyline of folklores or other literary works, to write their own story with their own creative essence. Some works belonged to great writers are often brought onto the theatre stage or movie screen in converting adaptive fashion. “Conversion” allows a bit more freedom to while converting original work than adaptation.
Films “based on” literary masterpieces often includes these subcategories: movies based on theatric screenplay, movies based on books, movies based on critically-acclaimed authors’ work, movies based on novels, movies based on poetries,…; Additionally, there are also: movies based on drama series, movies based on a comic book…
Whether it is adaptation or conversion, it is not uncommon for Truyen Kieu to be recreated as a cinematic artwork in Vietnam since it is such a masterpiece:
Kim Van Kieu was the first drama series adapted from Nguyen Du’s Truyen Kieu, produced and cinematographed by Indochine Filmes et Cinéma in 1923. The plot did not consist of any significant change compared to the authentic work, built and written by Famechon (French) and Nguyen Van Vinh. The film was screened on March 14th 1924 at Cinéma Palace, Trang Tien Street (Hanoi). This is also the first drama series debut in Vietnamese cinematic industry.
Kieu @ by Do Thanh An was inspired by the tragic situation and fateful love triangle between the two blood sisters, formerly represented as Thuy Kieu and Thuy Van, but set in the modernized contemporary background of Huong and Phan in modern times. In reference to the above definition, then the script of Kieu @ is a film story built upon the inspiration of Truyen Kieu in the old days.
Surprisingly, ever since the first cinematic film until now, it takes yet another 100 years for another cinematic film to be inspired from Truyen Kieu and start production in the one-shot storytelling language.
It is both an honor and a huge challenge to Do Thanh An. It’s clear why it’s an honor. But the challenge is a greater matter to discuss. Because he had purposely put together a script so that when audiences approach the film, they would not have feeling of comparing between the authentic works and the adaptive contemporary cinematic films, weighing the values, judging whether it is good or bad. But of course, here and there, there can still find the symbols or derivative works from literary models in this particular cinematographic work, and today’s glamorous modern life.
Kieu @ film project lasts the total of three years, from the beginning of the script to the final of film post-production. At first glance, no one seems to see a problem. But in hindsight, the very fact that Do Thanh An alone was the producer, slash screenwriter, slash director, it must have been tremendously difficult during the span of three years. He confided to us, that just thinking how to maneuver this possibly “cheesy” plotline into a story with hooks and twists, full of artistic elements, skillful details and fascinating surprise, consumed him a great deal of energy.

About Art Design
Designing film art and sketching the film storyboard, along with choosing and expressing the storytelling language by the modern one-shot technique, is without a doubt, a tremendous challenge to the film crew. However, this is also an opportunity, a creative boost for the creative team to maximize their positive energies during the process of creative labor.
There have been many discussions and meeting, fiery arguments, not always in agreement,… only to finally reach a compromise and both parties shook hands on executing according to the original idea. To concretize the ideas of the main executives (director, DOP, art director,…) the art designer had to visualize the directors’ intentions by sketching a series of screen interpretations, later on wrapped up into storyboards. He had to manage so that the filmmaker’s intentions and plans transcend most accurately and realistically on the screen. This is the professional filmmaking process of professional filmmaking team recognized by world cinema.
These storyboard sequences help the cinematographer visualize better the frame shots in shooting the film later on: the subjects in each shots, backgrounds – or character spaces; identify how to angle and cut the shot, perspectives, camcorder handle and frame layout will all be altered according to the range of the shot, whether it is panorama, medium, close-up or specification. However, with the artistic element and storytelling language of continuous one-shot technique, it is required to identify clearly the subject of specification scene with full purpose.
In Kieu @, perspective selection and executive is exceptionally crucial. It is the central creative perspective that director Nguyen Thanh An and his partners specifically cared about in choosing the one-shot storytelling technique.

DOP and Cinematography: Challenge within challenge
In all fairness, being the film art director and cinematographer for Kieu @, Truong Tuan has found himself in a challenge within challenge. Of course, obviously it is a struggle, for this was the first time he had to film a whole movies, in which the scenes required him to carry the handheld camcorder chasing around the character for dozens of minutes on end. In fact, in the making, there was one scene that took over 45 minutes of shooting without stopping. Carrying a large handheld recording equipment for that much amount of time, yet still guarantee to film the soulful and artistically-presented shots that satisfy and transfer the director’s intention; is definitely not an easy task.
Yet that was not even the most difficult challenge posed against him. Because, filming with a modern handheld camcorder is still supported with anti-shaking device, to prevent camera angle from shaking. But the problem also arises from here, as director Do Thanh An wanted to create a soulful shot full of human emotions.
The directors believed that the expressive language of the film is not restricted to close-up, medium shots, panorama or specification; it is about processing the film perspective. A cinematographer’s job is not simply visualize from an outer viewpoint like how the audiences would view the film events, but how to make the audience join in the story, as if they can feel all the psychology and actions of the characters they are watching. Before, the cinematic storytelling language basically is limited to several frame shot: close-up – medium – panorama – specification. Yet this extreme dependence on scene sizes without adding any element of surprise could kill modern cinema. According to Do Thanh An, focusing on the perspective and engaging with audience’s feeling will be a new direction to change the concept which was gradually growing into a stereotype.

With that belief, he wanted to create intentional shaky frame shot only to make the audience engage with the character’s feeling while following their perspective. How could a handheld camcorder supported with an anti-shaking device create such artistic scenes of tremors? By all means, one-shot movies are already hard to film, but with such a difficult request attached, there are no other than Do Thanh An. And to propose a solution to such difficult problems, there are no other than Truong Tuan. And he had done it successfully in Kieu @.

Music – Incredibly important
In order for the OST and background music to be purely Vietnamese, musician Duc Tri was chosen personally by the director of Kieu @.
Duc Tri’s popularity has emerged in Vietnamese music industry for the past 20 years with many projects, albums, musical productions that have been widely accepted and welcomed by the general public. Particularly in the field of movies soundtrack, he has participated in many films projects: Nu tuong cuop (2004), Ao lua Ha Dong (2007), Huyen thoai bat tu (2009), Lay chong nguoi ta (2012), Hiep si mu (2014), Da co hoai lang (2017), Thang nam ruc ro (2018),… This is enough to prove how reputatble he is in the music industry of the Vietnamese cinematic world.
For Kieu @, Do Thanh An gave him three problems to solve by himself:
First, all the instruments used in the film soundtrack production, has to be musical instrument used and made by Vietnamese ethnicities of every regions of Vietnamese territory from the past to the present. In which the main component must be the sound of the moon lute. Most ideally, only use the orchestra string instruments as background arrangement to compliment the sound of national music.
Second, the songs and music in the film must be completely influenced by Vietnamese traditional forms of music: quan họ, ca trù, chầu văn, nhã nhạc cung đình Huế, đờn ca tài tử,… However, it is crucial to note that as the audiences listen to such music, they should be confused that: this is purely nhã nhạc, yet not exactly nhã nhạc, it is chầu văn, yet not exactly chầu văn, is đờn ca tài tử but of course not đờn ca tài tử. To put it simply, it is unlike any specific form of Vietnamese traditional music, or anything the world had ever seen. Specifically, the director gave the musician a model example, to mimic the master Japanese contemporary concert compose – Kitaro – but at the same time not sound remotely like him.

Third, all the lyrics in the film’s OST doesn’t need to be written new, but borrowed from the very original Truyen Kieu to make a contemporary piece of music echoing with influences from all types and forms of Vietnamese traditional purity.
The sole reason why Do Thanh An assertively ordered musician Duc Tri with those three bulletin points, was because he already knew the musical experience of this artist. Duc Tri graduated from the University of Music HCMC, studied professionally in the US, majored in Contemporary Music Composing and Production, where he gave birth to a series of songs as well as produced many contemporary music projects. But from the roots, it’s fair to say that traditional music is deeply ingrained in the core of this musician. When he was 10, under the guidance of mentor Phan Chi Thanh, he was exposed to and acquainted with Vietnamese musical instruments such as the monochord, the moon lute, drums and so on. Professor Tran Van Khe left a comment for him when he was still alive, saying: “Duc Tri is one of the few young musician with such blessed predestined relationship with traditional music, whose potential sees great prospects in preserving and developing the traditional folk culture.”
Therefore, these three requirements are not exactly challenges, but motivations for this talented musician to promote his inner creative strengths that he has long suppressed, rarely has the opportunity to perform. So musician Duc Tri did not hesitate at all, only happily accepted the invitation.
The movie titled soundtrack is named Bui Tran Vay, performed by the singer Thuy Chi, arranged by the musician himself. This is the total final result of sublimation from all the above conditions.

Kieu@ - The untold story:
The film starts with two students, whom happened to be blood sister of Huong (starring Phan Thi Mo) and Phan (starring Cao Thai Ha), sitting together on a dreamy hilltop, with mist dangling like clouds, playing Kieu Tarot with all their respects: “I bow to thee great God of Poetry Nguyen Du, I bow to thy King Tu Hai, I bow to thee Giac Duyen, I bow to thy fairy Thuy Kieu,…” And then, curious about a typical fortune telling tricks in Vietnamese culture for the last 200 years, these young girls do not know, that those words from what seems to be a game at the dawn of day, have foretold their own destiny in its slow and mystical fashion just as accidentally.
During the vital surgery, Phan as a patient was then pregnant, had a cardiac arrest and was dead for a moment. Her soul escaped her body. Before the cardiac arrest, Phan had suffered many injustices and unbearable pain, therefore, according to the East Asian spiritual beliefs, her soul traveled back to the past to clear up everything: why she was so mad that her heart had an attack, why her sister always had to steal away her lover and then her husband, why her beautiful and peaceful family now filled with grief and sadness, why and why and why and why…?
In the perspective of a ghost, the audiences are allow full view on their past. At that time, Huong – Phan’s older sister – moved to Saigon for her study and a chance to change her life. But the city’s temptation had caught up to her and pushed her into damnation. Huong was tempted by Dinh (starring Tran Trung), became his lover and hooker, earning him profits. The cunning tricks of this fucking gangster in disguise of intellectual scholar, had shown Huong no mercy, caging her and leaving her no escape.
Whereas back in their hometown, Huong’s family received the money their daughter sent home from the city. Oh how happy they were, building a new house and treating heart diseases for the mother and Phan – both of whom got this illness by birth. Only to be so depressed and disgraced, when not long after they found out that the money they took was the money loaned to her daughter from the sharks, and earned by selling herself to have.
The family’s tragedy did not stop there, not when the love triangle between the two sisters continued its complexity as the relationship between four people evolved: Huong – Phan – Dinh – Tung. This tragedy had pushed doubts into the sisters’ mind, causing misunderstanding, mistrusts, grudges and pains that were impossible to clarify until the moment Huong died.
On the sidelines, there is another significant character, the mute kid Ut Kim (starring Minh Khai), who always paid silent attention and protection to Huong. This passionate graffiti artist had painted Huong on the walls in every lanes and alleys, even tattooed her name on the left side of his torso – as a proof for his quiet, unrequited one-sided love he had for Huong. The love that he carried when leaving this world to the other better one, in the arms of the one he loved and wished to protect for the rest of his life.
In a rehearsal screening for a few teachers, mentors and fore-goers of the cinematic industry, director Do Thanh An listened to constructive critiques, and gave answers to viewers’ questions and wonders. Throughout over 3 hours of talking, he mentioned several times about the hardships and challenges he had overcome in the making of this film. Many times he even thought that this film project needed to stop. Yet perhaps because he had spent too much effort, too much passion, dedication and hard work into this project, the “above” seemed to have heard his prays, gave him an invisible helping hand and pushed the project through every obstacles, to finally reach the point of his dreams.

Another hidden meaning to the words “one-shot”
Besides being a filming technique, requiring such level of difficulty like other precedent one-shot movies, the words “one-shot” used by director Do Thanh An in this movie had another hidden meaning to it, which related directly to the main plotlines of the movie.
One-shot here also means that: Huong – Phan sisters actually had the same husband, hated the same man and loved the same guy. There are two young women there, totally different. But under circumstances of an overlapping predestined love affairs, in context of the unexpected destiny, they were like two sides of one coin; with that coin being the modern feminine model. It might have been unintentional, yet relentlessly getting caught in the same story, they had to unravel and rise above that cruel twist of fate by themselves. “One-shot” in this sense should be placed between the quote marks.

Countless metaphors and symbols
Like many cinematographer, the birth father of Kieu @ also wanted his work to reach as many audiences as possible. Therefore, he chose a plotlines that at first glance of the summary, you would probably think it’s quite simple. But when watching the movie, being impressed by the fluidity and warm approach to addressing the matter, the audience should be thinking and comprehending the film long and hard even after finishing it. Because the filmmaker had enveloped many hidden meanings, metaphors, countless symbolic images that inviting the audience to join the director in a journey to explore, converse and comprehend. In order to enhance the surprise element for the audience, some secrets need to be kept till after the film is officially screened. We will only present two main characters along with the big message the director wanted to express.

Colored films and black-and-white
Normally, in cinema, when recreating memories, directors would use black and white frames. When filming the present scenes, colored frames are used. This is widely accepted and understood as a common code. However, for Kieu @, Do Thanh An went against that common code. In the movie, when shooting the present scenes the director used black and white frames, along with unmoving screen shots. Vice versa, filming the scenes in which the soul traveled back to the past, he used colored frames with continuously moving shots. What does this mean?
According to the principles of colors, rainbow comprised of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple. From here, colors mixed in with different temperature, to create shades of hot and cold, dark and pale, or in different contrast and similarities. Specially, black and white are not exactly colors, but shades. When black mixes with every colors around it, it makes the color go darker, denser, to a point that the color would be… lost. And when white mixes in with colors around it, it makes the color go brighter, lighter and lighter, to a point when the color would also be lost. So is this life. Everything is like a false void, where real mixed in with fake, fragile, endless, infinite.
To many people, the present happening in front of them is lively and colorful. But not to director of Kieu @. He believes that, the present that we see with our own eyes, what we experienced with all five senses blessed to our bodies, might not entirely be true. The truest reality is what we see with our soul, with our very own mind. The present sometimes is not what’s happening right in front of us, but what’s happening inside our mind. Therefore, maybe a trip searching through our memories would help us see the truth, if we kept busying ourselves, letting us be distracted with what’s happening, the truth will always be one step away. The reality we see might be nothing but a sepia picture of the real truth. So the so-called lively and colorful present now is reduced to only two shades: White – Black.

  • Helm Dolbetpy
    Director
    Do Thanh An
  • Doan Minh (Alma)
    Writer
    Script Ideas
  • Do Vien Bach (Osacars)
    Writer
    Script Ideas
  • Do Khiet Linh Dan (Venezia)
    Writer
    Script Ideas
  • Do Thanh An
    Writer
    Writer
  • Do Quoc Tuan
    Producer
    Production Executive
  • Do Thanh An ( Beytly Helm Do)
    Producer
    Production Manager
  • Do Mai Nhat Tuan
    Producer
    Line Producer
  • Ly Nuoi
    Producer
    Assistant Producer Manager
  • Minh Thien
    Producer
    Assistant Producer Location
  • Do Lenh Hung Tu
    Art Department
    Art Director – Artistic Design
  • Hoang Sang
    Art Department
    Art & Design Assistants 1
  • Nguyen Ba Hung
    Art Department
    Art & Design Assistants 1
  • Duong Hue Phuc
    Art Department
    Art & Design Assistants 3
  • Do Lenh Tu Anh
    Art Department
    Storyboard Artist
  • Hoang Viet Tri
    Art Department
    Piano Prop Production
  • Bui Cui Tuan
    Art Department
    Background Artist
  • Nguyen Viet Hoai
    Art Department
    Props Production
  • Nguyen Thanh Toan
    Art Department
    Props Production
  • Nguyen Dang Minh
    Art Department
    Film-set Organization
  • Minh Kha
    Art Department
    Film-set Organization
  • Phan Thi Dang Dieu
    Art Department
    Film-set Organization
  • Thuong Duy
    Art Department
    Design Poster
  • Tuong Loan
    Art Department
    Design Poster
  • Che Ngoc Lam
    Art Department
    Background
  • Phan Thi Mo
    Key Cast
    "Huong"
    Female lead
  • Tran Trung
    Key Cast
    "Dinh"
    Male lead
  • Cao Thai Ha
    Key Cast
    "Phan"
    Female supporting role
  • Manh Lan
    Key Cast
    "Tung"
    Male supporting role
  • Cong Ninh
    Key Cast
    "Huong’s father"
    Male supporting role
  • Minh Khai
    Key Cast
    "Ut Kim"
    Male supporting role
  • Hong Tham
    Key Cast
    "Huong’s mother"
  • Nguyet Anh
    Key Cast
    "The"
  • Honey Nguyen
    Key Cast
    "Can"
    Male supporting role
  • Quoc Hung
    Key Cast
    "Mr. Tu Cyclo"
  • Hoang Nhan
    Key Cast
    "Tung Can’s father"
  • Pham Hien
    Key Cast
    "Tung Can’s mother"
  • Hoang Vu
    Key Cast
    "Rich man"
  • Huynh Tan Tai
    Key Cast
    "Cu Den"
  • Hai Yen
    Key Cast
    "Women Debt collector"
  • Nhat Tuan
    Key Cast
    "Men Debt collector"
  • Nguyen Thi Thuy Duyen
    Consultant
    Art Consultant
  • Nguyen Trong Dai
    Consultant
    Art Consultant
  • Nguyen Dinh Thang
    Consultant
    Art Consultant
  • Trinh Thi Tuyet Mai
    Consultant
    Art Consultant
  • Nguyen Thi Ha
    Consultant
    Art Consultant
  • Nguyen Van Tan
    Consultant
    Language Consultant
  • Le Thai Hoang Nguyen
    Consultant
    English Subtitle Advisor
  • Ly Doi
    Consultant
    Director Of Communications
  • Nguyen Truong Son
    Consultant
    Content Consultant
  • Huynh Sanh Thong
    Consultant
    Translation Of Poetry (Truyen Kieu) En
  • Le Tung Chau
    Consultant
    Translation Of Songs En
  • Duc Tri
    Music
    Composer
  • Anh Tuan
    Music
    Instrumental Performers (Chords)
  • Khanh Tuong
    Music
    Instrumental Performers (Flute)
  • Tien Dat
    Music
    Instrumental Performers (moon lute)
  • Huu Duc
    Music
    Instrumental Performers (Percussion)
  • Binh Khoi
    Music
    Instrumental Performers (Percussion)
  • Tran Hau
    Music
    Instrumental Performers (Percussion)
  • Cao Ba Hung
    Music
    Instrumental Performers (Percussion)
  • Thuy Chi
    Music
    Singer
  • Ho Nga
    Music
    “Ca trù” Performer
  • Hong Duc
    Kieu@ (Book Of Film)
    Publishing company
  • Do Thanh An (Aaron Donald)
    Kieu@ (Book Of Film)
    Kieu@ Copyright book
  • Do Lenh Hung Tu
    Kieu@ (Book Of Film)
    Kieu @’s Book Written
  • Le Van Dong
    Kieu@ (Book Of Film)
    Kieu @’s Book Manuscript Written
  • Ly Doi
    Kieu@ (Book Of Film)
    Content Advisor of Kieu @’s Book
  • Huynh Quang Tho
    Kieu@ (Book Of Film)
    Kieu @’s Book Presentation
  • Dude Pictures Post House
    Post Production
    Produce House
  • Tran Pim
    Post Production
    Production Manager
  • Leo Ngo
    Post Production
    Soundtrack Engineer
  • Thanh Lam
    Post Production
    Editing
  • Vo Khoa
    Post Production
    Colorist
  • Dude Pictures Post House
    Post Production
    VFX
  • Huy Anh
    Post Audio
    Foley
  • Minh Hung
    Post Audio
    Foley
  • Than Minh Ha
    Post Audio
    Foley
  • Nguyen Ngoc Thai Son
    Post Audio
    Dialogue Editor
  • Than Minh Ha
    Post Audio
    Dialogue Editor
  • Than Minh Ha
    Post Audio
    SFX
  • Nguyen Ngoc Thai Son
    Post Audio
    SFX
  • Nguyen Ngoc Thai Son
    Post Audio
    Sound Design - Final Mix
  • Nguyen Ngoc Thai Son
    Post Audio
    Re-Recording
  • Tan Phong Promotion
    Voice-over crew/Voice actors
    Production Manager
  • Nghinh Loc
    Voice-over crew/Voice actors
    Character (Huong)
  • Tong My Trang
    Voice-over crew/Voice actors
    Character (Phan)
  • Quang Thanh
    Voice-over crew/Voice actors
    Character (Dinh)
  • Truong Ha
    Voice-over crew/Voice actors
    Character (Tung)
  • Tran Minh Tri
    Costumes
    Costume Designer
  • Le Ngoc Han
    Costumes
    Costume Manager
  • Cao Ngoc Anh Tai
    Costumes
    Assistant Costume 1
  • Cam Xuyen
    Costumes
    Assistant Costume 2
  • Nguyen Phung Nguyen Vi
    Makeup
    Main
  • Nguyen Thu Thao
    Makeup
    Assistan Makeup
  • Truong Tuan
    Camera and Electrical Department
    DOP- Cinematographer
  • Phan Tho
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Remote control flycam- Cam 2
  • Nguyen Chanh Truc
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Focus
  • Huynh Gia Bao
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Camera Assistants 1
  • Nguyen Van Dung
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Camera Assistants 2
  • Nguyen Thanh Tuong
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Camera Assistants 3
  • Nguyen Tuyen Hoang
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Camera Assistants 4
  • Tran Van Minh
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Camera Assistants 5
  • Tran Duc Canh
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Camera Assistants 6
  • Thanh Liem
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Gaffer 1
  • Minh Quang
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Gaffer 2
  • Tran Trung Hieu
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Lighting
  • Hoang Duc Phuc
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Lighting
  • Nguyen Van Nguyen
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Lighting
  • Phan Khac Linh
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Lighting
  • Nguyen Van Chau
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Lighting
  • Nguyen Xuan Thu
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Lighting
  • Tra Cu Lu
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Behind the scenes - Photography
  • Nguyen Chanh Truc
    Camera and Electrical Department
  • Huynh Gia Bao
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Camera Assistants 6
  • Phan Duc Tho
    Camera and Electrical Department
    Data Management
  • Hoai An
    Second Unit Directors or Assistant Directors
    Vice-Director 1
  • Trong Hieu
    Second Unit Directors or Assistant Directors
    Vice-Director 2
  • Hoang Kim Quy
    Second Unit Directors or Assistant Directors
    Director Assistant 1
  • Thai Huynh Duy Khang
    Second Unit Directors or Assistant Directors
    Director Assistant 2
  • Nguyen Phung Nguyen Du
    Second Unit Directors or Assistant Directors
    Director Secretary
  • Le My Phuong
    Second Unit Directors or Assistant Directors
    Film Schedule Planner
  • Phan Thi Ngan Ha
    Second Unit Directors or Assistant Directors
    Production Accountant
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Kiều@
  • Project Type:
    Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 48 minutes 41 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 4, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    3,000,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Viet Nam
  • Country of Filming:
    Viet Nam
  • Language:
    Vietnamese
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • THE FILM KIEU@ HAS BEEN CERTIFIED A VIETNAMESERECORD
    Ho Chi Minh
    Viet Nam
    February 5, 2021
    BY THE VIETNAM RECORD ASSOCIATION CENTRAL COMMITTEE - VIETNAM RECORD ORGANIZATION - VIETKINGS (Code:2569/KLVN/February 3, 2021)
    “Vietnam's Record "First Vietnamese Film to use (ONE SHOT- Continuous Shot) Technique over 90 minutes"
  • Montreal Independent Film Festival 2021
    Montreal
    Canada
    https://www.montrealindependentfilmmagazine.com/post/winners-of-fall-season-2021
    Best Director - Best Edit - Best Cinematographer
  • Around International Film Festival ARFF International // Paris Monthly Edition 2021 -ARFF International
    Paris
    France
    https://www.facebook.com/AroundInternationalFilmFestival/photos/pcb.1858545111000054/1858542907666941/
    Monthly Selected Best Director
  • Tokyo International Monthly Film Festival 2021
    Tokyo
    Japan
    https://www.instagram.com/p/CV5h2auqwVy/
    Best Art Film
  • LA Independent Women Film Awards
    Los Angeles
    United States
    December 7, 2021
    https://www.laindiesmagazine.com/post/6th-edition-of-la-independent-women-film-awards
    Honorable Mention Director
  • The Houston International Film Festival 55th 2022
    Houston
    United States
    April 24, 2022
    Winner Remi Silver Lone Star Award
  • Around International Film Festival ARFF International // ARFF PARIS 2022
    Paris
    France
    June 24, 2022
    La Péniche Cinéma 59 Boulevard Macdonald Paris, Île-de-France 75019 France
    Nominee Best Experimental Film
  • Montreal Independent Film Festival 2022
    Montreal
    Canada
    April 25, 2022
    https://www.montrealindependentfilmmagazine.com/post/2022-montreal-independent-film-festival
    Winner Best Directing
Distribution Information
  • Lotte Entertainment
    Sales Agent
    Country: Viet Nam
    Rights: Theatrical
Director Biography - Helm Dolbetpy

Helm Dolbetpy (Do Thanh An) June 19, 1980, is a Vietnamese director, screenwriter of film and television series.
Originally from Do Thanh An in Nui Sap town, Thoai Son district, An Giang province, currently residing in Binh My commune, Cu Chi district, Ho Chi Minh city with his wife and two children. His wife is Bach Kim, a professional drama actor (2001-2005). After his marriage, he changed his career to a scriptwriter and film director. Do Thanh An has an intermediate degree in drama and film actor in 2001, a bachelor's degree in art, majoring in film director. From 2001 to 2007, there were stage actors in Theatre 5B, and freelance actors. Since 2007, he studied film director, and has been working as a director and screenwriter until now.

Director:
- 2009 Grandma Climbing Coconut , Documentary, Film Won Kite Award 2009 Vietnam
- 2010 Gentleman Era, TV Series 42 episodes
- 2011 The Sound of KIM , TV 30 episodes, The movie of “DAN CA TAI TU”, The first one in Vietnam
- 2012 Trendy letters @ , TV Drama 35 episodes
- 2013 New Year Banh, TV Series 5 episodes
- 2014 The Missing Corpse, Cinema, Won 20 billion VND revenue after 3 weeks of release in Vietnam
- 2015 Like: love-fashion-bandanna, TV Drama 30 episodes
- 2016 Blood Mask, Cinema, Won VND 40 billion in revenue after 4 weeks of release in Vietnam
- 2021 Kieu@, Cinema, (film inspired by Truyen Kieu - Nguyen Du.
) The world's 31th film is using ONE SHOT technique over 90 minutes (by Ranker), 200 years Anniversary - Story of Kieu (Nguyen Du) 1820-2020, COMING SOON 2023, the 31st film in the world (according to Ranker's statistics).THE FILM KIEU@ HAS BEEN CERTIFIED A VIETNAMESERECORD. BY THE VIETNAM RECORD ASSOCIATION CENTRAL COMMITTEE - VIETNAM RECORD ORGANIZATION - VIETKINGS.
“Vietnam's Record "First Vietnamese Film to use (ONE SHOT- Continuous Shot) technique over 90 minutes"

Writer:
- Grandma Climbing Coconut (2009)
- The Missing Corpse (2014)
- Blood Mask (2016)
- Blood Dead Point (2015)
- Kieu@ (2019)

Award:
1. "Grandma Climbing Coconut" (Kite Award 2009, Vietnam) by Vietnam Film Association

2. “KIEU@“ Vietnam's Record-First Vietnamese Film to use (ONE SHOT- Continuous Shot) technique over 90 minutes. (BY THE VIETNAM RECORD ASSOCIATION CENTRAL COMMITTEE - VIETNAM RECORD ORGANIZATION - VIETKINGS 2021- HĐTV.VK.GXLKL:2572/KLVN.05/02/2021).
- Link Certificate:http://kyluc.vn/tin-tuc/ky-luc/kieu-thiet-lap-ky-luc-bo-phim-dien-anh-dau-tien-o-viet-nam-quay-bang-ky-thuat-one-shot-cu-may-tiep-dien-co-thoi-luong-phim-tren-90-phut

3. “KIEU@“ Best Director - Best Edit - Best Cinematographer (Montreal Independent Film Festival).
- Link Certificate: https://www.montrealindependentfilmmagazine.com/post/winners-of-fall-season-2021
https://www.imdb.com/event/ev0020825/2021/1?ref_=ttawd_ev_1

4. ”KIEU@“ Monthly Selected Best Director (Around International Film Festival ARFF International // Paris Monthly Edition 2021 -ARFF International // Paris 2022 Awards). - Link Certificate:https://www.facebook.com/AroundInternationalFilmFestival/photos/pcb.1858545111000054/1858542907666941/

5. “KIEU@“ Best Art Film (Tokyo International Monthly Film Festival 2021) - Link Certificate:https://www.instagram.com/p/CV5h2auqwVy/

6. “KIEU@“ Honorable Mention Director (LA Independent Women Film Awards 5th Edition 2021)
Link Certificate:
https://www.laindependentwomenfilmawards.com/fifth-edition
https://www.laindiesmagazine.com/post/6th-edition-of-la-independent-women-film-awards

Marriage:
November 19, 2006. Helm Dolbetpy (Do Thanh An) married actor Bach Kim, an actor of small stage 5B Vo Van Tan Ho Chi Minh City

Education:
- Bachelor of Arts of professional actors (Regular)
- Magister Atrium of Arts - Film director (Regular)

Father: Do Thanh Nhan (1956)
Mother: Vo Thi Kim Lien (1961)
Sister: Do Ngoc Ai (1984)
Son: Do Vien Bach (2009)
Daughter: Do Khiet Linh Dan (2012)

Please check all my attachments:
- First movie “The Missing Corpse 2014”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3h6lj1AD5U
- Second movie “Blood Mask - 2016”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zfh0D5nE6Q

Director Helm Dolbetpy
Email:director@dothanhan.com

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

“Close-up, midrange, panorama, to specification,… consecutively following one another in a successive constructions, create the storytelling language in movie. Yet if nothing is new anymore, this will kill modern cinema itself.” (Helm Dolbetpy)

A vegetarian director
Despite being a Buddhism follower, Helm Dolbetpy has never before conjured the thought of being a vegetarian. Until around three years ago, when his father had an accident that was almost fatal, he prayed to the Buddha for his father’s safety and recover, and promised that he would be a vegetarian for a whole month.
As a man true to his words, he became a vegetarian. His father recovered gradually. During that one month, he had wished for time to pass faster countless times, so that these 30 days of strict diet would soon end, so he could enjoy the taste of meat and fish again.
Yet how peculiar, after a month of eating nothing but veggies and fruits, he became nauseous at the smell and taste of fish or meat. Having tried many times, he still could not change that reaction; and then it dawned to him, that eating in a vegetarian diet is healthy, still good. So he remains a vegetarian until this day. It is probably not big of a deal whether one is a vegetarian or not, but to people with high religious fate and faithful to Buddhism such as him, this holds such sacred meaning.
Another coincidence was that, the moment Do Thanh An decided to become vegetarian, matched the time Kieu @ project found its investor, marking a start of a long-term 3 years marathon.
Even now when he thinks about it, he still believes that thanks to that decision, to become a vegetarian and meditate every dawn before leaving the bed, has helped brighten and clearance his mind, allowing him to see in better transparency. Especially helpful to the film project he was working on. He believed that was the way to help him get closer to the “helping hand” of the great Buddha above, whom blessed him to push forward in his road. There were times when everything was so hard he thought he would give up, and the project wouldn’t have made it.

D.O.P TRUONG TUAN
DOP (Director of Photography) Truong Tuan was born in 1977. He graduated from HCMC College of Theatre and Cinema in 1999.
The year 2006 marked a milestone in this cinematographer’s career when he finally moved to work under the occupation of a DOP and filming freelancer. During 21 years of professional operation in the field of DOP and filming, he owned a very resourceful resumé: with 12 reporage films, documentaries, travel logs 15 DVD music albums; more than 12 game show programs, 11 drama series, 6 movies and a variety of promotional videos.
Before Kieu @, he had participated in filming several film projects, such as Mat xac, Tinh ma utu, Tien nu khong kieng cu, Tao khong xa may, Dao nguc; many famous game shoe such as Miss Vietnam 2008, Vietnam Next Top Model 2012-2013, Masterchef, Phai manh VietI,… Or many drama series could be named, like Tieng dan kim, Chu hieu thoi @, Duong dua, Tran trui,…
Having collaborated with director Do Thanh An in Mat xac (2014), this could be considered a rather successful project when only after 3 weeks of screenings, the film had brought back 20 billion VND in revenue. At that time, this was a rare incidence for our Vietnamese cinematic industry.
This time, with Kieu @, director Do Thanh An once again gave his trust to Truong Tuan as he chose him to be the DOP/Cinematographer. Particularly in the field of one-shot filming technique, the director had posed extremely difficult challenge, requiring the DOP/cinematographer to dig deep into finding an answer and solution.

The film crew had no idea what they were doing
How outrageous!
Yes, how outrageous is that!
But it was true for the crew in the making of Kieu @. Except the director, art director, DOP,… next to no one have a clue of what they were doing or participating in, what role they held in creating the characters of Kieu in modern “@” times. Especially the actors joining the film project. They knew the core nature of the plotlines and their own roles, but none of them had a slightest idea, that they were joining to create a totally new interpretation of existing character symbols which had become classic in Nguyen Du’s masterpiece Truyen Kieu. Phan Thi Mo knew she was playing Huong, but had no idea that was the model for a modernized Thuy Kieu. Cao Thai Ha put herself in Phan’s shoes, without acknowledging that was Thuy Van of today. Manh Lan played Tung but didn’t know that was supposed to be a modernized Kim Trong. Tran Trung played Dinh without knowing he was modeling a 4.0 Ma Giam Sinh,…
Only when the actors fulfilled their role and the film stopped shooting, director Do Thanh An unraveled the secret to the crew about the hidden meaning of this film, and that it was named Kieu @. The whole film crew was taken aback by then.
This is entirely the director’s intention. He wanted to fully exploit the actors’ youthful, new and creative approach to their roles. The director was afraid that had the actors known it was the literary classic characters they had to portray, they would have been terribly stressed, thinking that the shadows over their characters were too great, so obsessed that they would be stereotyped to clichés. With the name Kieu @, the director wanted his actors to fully transfer themselves into the roles they played, so that they could transcend the historic background in which they lived in, as well the characteristics of humans in glamorous life cycle of today’s modern times. Human nature speaking, despite time, era and places, there will always exist Thuy Kieu, Thuy Van, Kim Trong, Ma Giam Sinh,… But humans always will live under influences of social background and psychology belonged to the era in which they were born in.

Guarantee 1 billion VND for one shot
On the movie, there was a long shot shooting the scene where all the truth dawned to Huong – Phan’s family in one night, the truth of Huong working as a hooker and now heavily in debt. Associate-Professor Luan Kim, vice-president of Vietnamese cinematic council, upon seeing the screening of that scene, could not have hid his surprise. He asked the director: “How could you have shot that peculiar continuous long shot?” Director Do Thanh An answered honestly, “To film that shot, I signed a risky guarantee for 1 billion VND.”
That was the shot assisted with flycam in a dark night, with fogs and mists surrounding, flycam had to follow the characters, flying just above the clouds. The toughest task belonged to the flycam controller, since they couldn’t possibly see their equipment from the 500-metre height in a dark condition.
To film that shot was too risky with an equipment worthy of billions VND. Equipment executive Phan Duc Tho – the controller of the device did not agree with the idea on how to perform that long-shot the way the director wanted it to. So the director had to sign a guarantee, to pay one billion VND compensation if the device had any damage during this shot.
Not a surrender to difficulty, director Do Thanh An came up with an idea, that all actors test this scene firsthand in a day exterior. Every smallest details in equipment maneuver and execution, how many minutes this scene needs rotating, how many seconds, how high over the treetops that the device stop to trail follow the characters,… was calculated deliberately and meticulously. Night fell, the official scene would have been filmed, fortunately everything happened accordingly, following the rehearsal without an error; or else our director/producer had to pay compensation as promised. Therefore, this priceless frame shot had a real price behind the scene, and the price was 1 billion VND.

The poster was too stormy
Upon seeing the official poster designed by artist Thuong Duy, the audience should see the letter “@” drawn into the center of a dark and menacing storm, covering the whole space, creating a very strong impression. After finishing the movie, the audiences would most likely guess the hidden meaning behind this poster. Yes, it is indeed a storm, the storm of life and time, surging and cornering the little human life like the main character in the movie.
Apart from that, originally the idea to make a poster with a storm in the background had an entirely different explanation. During the first two years of shooting, each time they filmed the exterior, storms were inevitable disadvantage. To put in total, they had encountered 4 greatest storm in the last two years. The filming was so stormy it was traumatic. The members of the film crew even joked: “Maybe because we filmed a movie about a stormy life that the sky wants to raise storm to…. match our film.”
Indeed, it was the heavy rain and wind from atmospheric circulation of those four storms that directly inspired the movie poster to take shape: such a stormy poster!

The cars almost flipped on the way to… fortune telling
Of course, we were not going to have our own fortune told. The fortune telling trip here was referring to the scene where Huong – Phan sat on the hilltop playing Kieu Tarot in the opening of the film To have this exterior shot, the film crew traveled to a hill on Da Lat to pre-inspect the area and choose this place to be the exterior for the opening scene. Because at the time on this hill, the lighting was just beautiful as clouds and fogs gathered to create a dreamy and mystical atmosphere.
Before the actual exterior scene was shot, the director spent four consecutive days at the actual scene at the hilltop, only to make sure that everything was going accordingly for him to film to his intentions. The fifth day would be a good day to shoot. To shoot the scene on the exact time according to plan, the film crew had to move up on the hill since 3 AM, when it was pitch dark outside.
How ironic, after four consecutive days of clear skies and sunny, on the night prior to shooting day, Da Lat rained like never before, it rained cats and dogs throughout the whole night. With belief that the next morning the rain would stop and sky would clear, fog would only grow denser that the scene would be dreamier, the film crew kept their traveling plans unchanged according to schedule.
Only when they entered the path at the foot of the hill that they saw, the rain last night had made the dirt and ground mushy, the crew had to move to a small seven-seat van, with a tractor to lead. It was dark and no one knew the road, not to mention its terrible condition. The seven-seat small van carrying the crew and actors struggled to climb the slopes when suddenly the vehicle lost control and momentum, sliding downward towards the deep valley. The whole van were terrified that they dared not to breathe, everyone was on the verge of panic, thinking about the worst case scenario that the van would flip. But it was as if the great Almighty was just testing their boldness and bravery, all of a sudden a pine tree collapsed right in the middle of the road, blocking the van from rolling downhill faster and faster. The whole crew thought they must have been at death’s door, and now saved.
With high-spirited belief that surviving a tribulation was definitely a good luck, the crew was determined to travel the rest of the way to the hilltop and set up the film set. Truly, after a whole night raining, clouds and mists of early morning gathered on the hilltop was even more beautiful than ever seen previously. Film crew worked till their last sweat and finally had their desirable shot, after surviving a terrifying accident only a few hours prior.

Still about rains and storms
The crew traveled to Da Lat right at its stormiest season. The weather forecast warned them about the possibility of superstorm affecting Saigon directly. In Da Lat, each time the crew united to prepare human resources, machinery, equipment and vehicles to the film set, they sky always happened to pour rain. Wishing for a clear sky was almost impossible.
In such condition, the director involuntarily had to let the crew take a break, however the actors from Saigon were still required presence here on the plateau. Over three hundred kilometers, the cars traveled so fast, they were literally avoiding storms. From his location, the director wholeheartedly prays for the crew’s safety, for the project to work out, and of course he did not forget to chant from his very soul, “Dearest Kieu, though I do not have anything of values or treasures to present thee, only incense, tea, some simple fruits of our village, minimal but with a sincere heart, if thee would have compassion for us, please do not bless us with these good rains…”
Truly, they couldn’t possibly have had more rain. Yet the prayers worked so effectively. Even though the weather forecast still warned them the night before: due to the storm circulation, there continued to have rain in the highlands, yet… when morning came, the coast was clear, the sky was blue and sun was shining on the horizon, it was so beautiful now that the streets were dry and clean as if storms and rains never had happened. Deploying the scene at the hill’s back next to Huong’s tomb performed beautifully. Atop of them fluttered sparks of flowers, red like lanterns. Beside her tombstone, Huong’s father and Phan talked with their voices choked with regrets. Phan burst into tears when she read the last letter her sister left for her. All of Huong’s sacrifice hidden with her silence now unfolded with so much emotions, harmonized with the background played the sound of Phan’s piano. The white-dot butterfly on the headstone now flew away as a sign of release for Huong’s soul. A rainbow appearing across the horizon only bettered present the director’s intention to the audience.

When the ending scene finished shooting (flycam over the background), the crew also finished cleaning up the film set to move to the van, only then did the black clouds and storms gather over their head, darkening the sky, and rains poured down heavily once again like waterfall, soon enough the whole area was stormed over.

River-bathing scene - Only three minutes away from danger
In the film there was a scene of Huong bathed in the river one last time in her miserable life, before committing suicide. The night exterior scene taking place at a residence next to Saigon river required the actress to come into the water, in order to portray Huong bathing herself clean, clean of all the filth this wretched life had born her. On the other side of the river was fantastic urban, with modern skyscrapers beautifully lit with many colors,… on this side was the poor residence, with small little houses,… It is not easy to create a bridge leading to the river wharf for Huong to bathe safely. It took the design team days on end to process a submerged crib for the actress to stand inside. In addition, divers must be situated near the actress in case of accidents, she could be immediately rescued. Their hard works paid off when the frame came out beautifully, displaying Huong with beautiful glistening skin under the clear water, gently relaxed herself in the river; then the flycam flew over to necessary altitude and properly catch the city nightscape. On the other side was the 81-storey skyscraper, lights blinking like starlight; on this side only one blurry light reflected on the water, floating around on the surface blinking like goldflakes.
Such beautiful frame, such romantic scene, but upon reexamining the take at the scene, director Do Thanh An almost jumped for a heart-stopping incidence. For this river-bathing scene, the props team and film set service had to put a lot of light poles around Huong’s position to increase the lighting and enhance the visual quality of the film. At the time of the lighting setting process, tides were receding, nearly two meters lower than the top of the light pole. But the filming process was at high tides, the actress had just gotten into her character when a light bulb was spotted floating on the water, meaning the water had submerged over the light poles. They were probably only three minutes away before that lamp holder, containing 220V power source, was also flooded by the water, less than half a meter from Miss Phan Thi Mo and the diving crews down there in the river. No one dared to imagine what could have happened. After that shot, director Do Thanh An still could not seem to have calmed his heart, and once again chanted his prays: “If not thanks to our blessed fortune, the film crew might have been put in grave danger.”
Maybe because Kieu@ used the perspective of a spirit without its body, that the behind-the-scene stories kept rotating around the spiritual belief: within hardships there is fortune; and no matter how hard any of the members tried, none of them can explain this. Please do not associate these stories to any superstitious prejudices, but there surely seemed to have some mystical spiritual power looking out for these good people.

Shooting the sex scene in setting cold as ice
In the south, there existed such a night when cold wind came, like the north entering winter.
In a wide room filled with white flowers, there was a grand tub, filled with nearly a liter of ice water, over which placed three huge freezing ice blocks, under which placed another tub of ice balls. For this scene, Huong had to strip herself naked, used a razor blade to cut her wrist, willingly taking her own life and willingly offering her body as an organ donor. Huong stepped into the freezing tub with a peaceful soul, attempting to preserve her own body in ice-cold water after death. She laid inside the ice water, unmovingly sinking into the sleep of death.
But of course in reality there is no one capable of withstanding that extreme freezing coldness. The actress Phan Thi Mo told the director: “Of course I’m afraid. It’s bathing myself in a tub of ice water that’s below 0 degree. I’m scared of laying there unmoving to naturally perform the dying scene. It’s freezing!”
Ice water melted from the ice blocks into the tub, ice breeze oozing all over the room. To make sure the actress did not catch a cold, the design team had to prepare dozens and dozens of bottles of boiled water: 30 seconds before the shooting, all those boiling hot water was poured into the tub at the same time then ice was poured over to cover the surface, balancing the temperature in the tub with each takes and retakes. Only a few minutes on screen, but ti took many people’s effort and meticulousness, especially the contribution of the main actress, working her best, accepting the challenges unconditionally to properly portray her scene to the director’s intention.

Taking a bash in the head without any supporting effects
After a few behind-the-scene stories mentioned above, the audience must have felt all the contribution and fully sacrifice from the actors and film crew of Kieu @, in order to present a film as realistic and lively as the one you sees on the screen. That’s not all. For example at the climax near the end of the film, actor Tran Trung accidentally had to take a bash in the head without any prior notice.
This was a part of the take where Huong was struggling for a way to kill Dinh (starring Tran Trung) when she was exposed to his vicious villainous self. At the climax of the heart-stopping fight scene between the two, because the woman was physically weaker, Huong was suppressed and taken control by Dinh, soon she fell within danger zone. All of a sudden Ut Kim came to the rescue. With the element of surprise, the young man sneaked from the back, quick-wittedly grabbed a big ceramic pot, and smacked it on his opponent’s head with all his might, bringing him down. Sadly enough, Dinh still managed some strength and consciousness left to make a shot at Ut Kim.
Coming back to the story, the scene was very beautifully portrayed as the acting felt real, after the hit, the ceramic pot crashed into pieces, scattering everywhere. Dinh was shocked and disoriented after the sudden and strong hit. The whole film crew had to pay actor Tran Trung some respect for it, after that hit he was still conscious and strong enough to continue his brilliant villainous role at this ride-or-die moment of truth. Ending the scene, actor Minh Khai was so worried and sorry towards Tran Trung: “Are you hurt? Did I hit you too hard?”
Of course you hit hard, of course it hurt, the whole ceramic pot cracked on his head! But that’s what it took to test a man’s gut and the bold acting of a professional actor

D.O.P TRUONG TUAN
DOP (Director of Photography) Truong Tuan was born in 1977. He graduated from HCMC College of Theatre and Cinema in 1999.
The year 2006 marked a milestone in this cinematographer’s career when he finally moved to work under the occupation of a DOP and filming freelancer. During 21 years of professional operation in the field of DOP and filming, he owned a very resourceful resumé: with 12 reporage films, documentaries, travel logs 15 DVD music albums; more than 12 game show programs, 11 drama series, 6 movies and a variety of promotional videos.
Before Kieu @, he had participated in filming several film projects, such as Mat xac, Tinh ma utu, Tien nu khong kieng cu, Tao khong xa may, Dao nguc; many famous game shoe such as Miss Vietnam 2008, Vietnam Next Top Model 2012-2013, Masterchef, Phai manh VietI,… Or many drama series could be named, like Tieng dan kim, Chu hieu thoi @, Duong dua, Tran trui,…
Having collaborated with director Do Thanh An in Mat xac (2014), this could be considered a rather successful project when only after 3 weeks of screenings, the film had brought back 20 billion VND in revenue. At that time, this was a rare incidence for our Vietnamese cinematic industry.
This time, with Kieu @, director Do Thanh An once again gave his trust to Truong Tuan as he chose him to be the DOP/Cinematographer. Particularly in the field of one-shot filming technique, the director had posed extremely difficult challenge, requiring the DOP/cinematographer to dig deep into finding an answer and solution.

ART DIRECTOR DO LENH HUNG TU
Do Lenh Hung Tu was born in 1957 in Hanoi. He graduated majored art and design for cinematic – television films; from VGIK – Moscow State University of Cinema. After that, he returned home and worked professionally in the field of art and design for films and television series ever since.
Honorable mentions of many cinematic works, drama series he had participated: Nhan dan la trang giay trang, Hai duong trang, Trai tim khong ngu yen, Gian hon, Nu hon dau doi, Loi ta tinh trong mua, Co nguoi mau cua toi, Mat trang khong tieng sung, Song lai o que huong, Nhung ngoi sao bien, Rang tram bau, Buoc khe den hanh phuc, Kieu @,…
Apart from being a film art designer, he has also been involved in teaching and researching at many universities since 1986 until now: University of Theater and Cinema HCMC, University of Architecture HCMC, HCMC University of Fine Arts, University of Social Sciences and Humanities HCMC, Saigon University of Technology,…
He is the author to two theoretical research books on film art design: Visual art design for featured films (Culture – Information Publisher, 2009); and Visual art in cinematographic composition (Fine Arts Publisher, 2015). He is also the author of many research articles in the fields of art theory and history, designs for television and cinema, visual arts and applied arts,… His studies and articles have been published and conversed widely at conferences, scientific journals and international exhibitions.
With Kieu@ project, Do Lenh Hung Tu participated as both a partner, and a former teacher to direct Do Thanh An. His artistic scenic designs and clever storyboard system contributed greatly to setting the stage for the film’s success.

Finale:
Creative and bold.
Since the introduction of the Law of Cinema, there has been a form of socialized films emerging in Vietnam that we often call: private films. Because of the autonomy and self-funding throughout the whole production process, private filmmakers always find themselves standing on the thin line separating two choices: choosing the artistic quality of the film or its commerciality. The film made it to the public eye had to meet two factors of success both in terms of art and revenue. This has always been a difficult problems for private filmmakers in the market mechanism.
In the 4.0 era, the times of information explosion, Do Thanh An released Kieu @ the movie, which is a grand effort that not everyone can make it.
This is a film rich in humanity with a structured narrative style. The story is told not in a dexterous way, not at all sensationalized or puzzling to the viewers. Do Thanh An had skillfully followed the Kieu motif by the great poet Nguyen Du, to tell the fate of a young girl, moving from the countryside to the city to study. At the temptation of money, the allure turned that young woman, from an innocent virtuous young girl, descending into damnation of a false love.
For the last 200 years, the fate of Kieu had become a classic icon in traditional treasure of literature and folklore, a prerequisite for many forms of traditional arts to depict and exploit, cinema included.
Finishing the film, we could see another Kieu in the “@” time era through Huong as a realistic reflection, a straightforward conversation between Do Thanh An and the classic work of literature. It was the way he approached the matter, proposing all the causes behind a person’s falling into the wrongful abyss… From there he explained the soul and virtuousness of women in modern times, to highlight the trait of humane, consistently making the audience connect the past and present, connecting through to the nature of human short life, through many ups and downs, many stages of birth – aged – old – death. Kieu @ reminded today’s audience to have a better look at the face of people, like the silk merchant – for this kind of people wiggled their ways in every life and time, especially in the modern days their tricks are even more sophisticated and disgusting.
With the creative and bold one-shot technique, this is a pioneer step in the art of film production. The film had shown its research, creativity, dedication in finding new and powerful approaches. This is also the catalyst for filmmakers to create and enrich this Seventh form of art. Because a film crew must always be aware: only by creating films with high artistic quality, can Vietnamese cinema have hope to put their name on the cinematic world map, something that we have always longed for.
Joining the film screening, it is not merely just a form of entertainment, but the audiences would also have a chance to think on artistic values and human destiny. The film has inherited and developed from literature and art basics, moving forward to honoring the 200th anniversary of the day the great poet Nguyen Du left this world for the great beyond.
With a newborn work, the viewers will have many different feelings on first encounter with the character image the filmmakers brought in. In such dire times of the Covid-19 epidemic, director Do Thanh An had put a lot of effort and enthusiasm in Kieu @, which is, to my opinion, a very respectful job well done.
People’s Artist LE TIEN THO
* Former Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

A special place in my heart
I specialize in Information Technology and Financial Technology, I have forever been interested in art and cinema, even though I have never been involved in making movies or interested in any film project.
But upon meeting Do Thanh An, listening to him talking about his project Kieu @, about how to film with one-shot technology which never before a precedence appeared in Vietnam cinematic industry, I was immediately attracted. I saw something in this young man sitting in front of me, that was quite reckless and quite frankly, maybe a little crazy. I was convinced by his “madness” in creative thinking and daring thoughts, this 8x director. So I decided to accept the invitation to participate in investment and become an advisor for the film. Together with Do Thanh An, I struggled to review the script content, footage, lines,… to complete. We wish to bring An’s artistic ideas closer to the public eye, let him soar high on the aesthetic sky.
In our companionship, we fully understand his creative passion, the hard work not only his own but also his partners and film crew, along with the actors. This is also An’s spiritual and artistic child, this is his art, the crystallization of all the dreams and dedications to make it come true.
Although I have reviewed the raw version many times for comments and editing, when I see the completed rehearsal screening, seeing all the lights, dialogues conversing in musician Duc Tri’s musical background, I am still deeply touched. The guests watching were also completely surprised, attracted to each scene, each layout, how the characters resolve conflict. The problems are rather real, very life, it is a movie but very relatable to modern life; yet still harbor and reflect the cruel fate Nguyen Du had written in Truyen Kieu hundreds of years ago in all its humanity. The audience watching and reviewing the film were enraged by the villain’s cunning conspiracy, they shed tears of compassion for the woman caught in this vicious trap, and they also shed tears for the element of humanity in this work. This is the result for Do Thanh An’s efforts for three longs years, in order to create a masterpiece like Kieu @ and publish it to the public eye.
For me, personally, that’s all it takes for Do Thanh An and Kieu @ to have a place in my heart. And I believe Do Thanh An will do the same to many hearts of many Vietnamese, who love the idea of artistic creation and humanism. I also believe that not only Vietnamese people would welcome and sympathize with Kieu @, but the international cinematic world would also welcome this artwork.
NGUYEN DINH THANG
* Vice Chairman of Vietnam Software and IT Services Association
* Vice Chairman of Vietnam Digital Media Association
* Chairman of Hong Co Group
* Art advisor for Kieu @

A fresh strange wind
It was an interesting experience to participate and play a part in this film as an actor. I truly admire the aspirations of the director and the production team. You have found the key for the entrance to this script and a fascinating way to tell the story.
The cast is beautiful and capable, with captivating performance that portrays the characters vividly, transparent, and sympathize deeply with the characters’ psychology. The film has impressive and creative scenes, the music is very quintessentially Vietnamese, full of sublimation.
In my opinion, Kieu @ will be a fresh strange wind for the Vietnamese cinematic industry at the present. With that in mind, I do hope the film will satisfy all cinema fans, movie-loving audiences.
I wish the film gather a great success!
Meritorious Artist CONG NINH.

Surprise with the budget
Accepting the invitation to be Kieu @’s project director, I was put in deep confusion. However, with support to experimentation and the new has always been my spirits towards art. Most importantly, I have absolute trust with director Do Thanh An. My enthusiasm and passion towards this Seventh Art form matched the unique and strange ideas about An’s bold project, and it convinced me.
I just stood behind the scene, taking care of funding and financing the project. To do that with peace in mind, I myself sometimes did not dare to imagine how the director would materialize all the ideas that people considered and prejudiced to be too risky and outrageous.
From the budget perspective, I am actually surprised that, with a very modest financial amount, compared to the normal requirement of making a regular one-shot movie, director Do Thanh An could still pull it off.
Until this very day, now that the film is competed, I still feel honored to be the same frontline, contributing my fair share of efforts to Kieu @.
DO QUOC TUAN
* Project Manager for Kieu @

Thank You Special!

For the film project Kieu @ to be as successful as today, I would like give my sincerest thanks to:
First and foremost, to Thai Thi Bach Kim (Alma) – my wife, who had suffered so much hardship behind the scene. Kim took care of everything, every familial matter, taking care of my children and many other things in life so that I am allowed and secured to be creative. Kim always encourages and helps me overcome difficulties and disappointments to achieve my goals and successes, without asking anything for herself.
Secondly, the investors, companions and supporters, who have believed in and collaborated on such an adventurous yet promising project. This is a purely Vietnamese film pioneering in aesthetic arts.
Next to my partners, actors, and film crew members, who have been with me on this journey for more than three years, from when Kieu @ was just an idea until the movie finally took shape.
My colleagues and my seniors, whom have familiarized themselves with this profession, have given me timely encouragement, sharing and suggestions, to help me make this cinematographic work to meet my own expectation.
And last but not least, to all my loving audiences. It is the audiences’ sharing and support what formed my great motivation for me to step up and create this meaningful work of art.

Director Helm Dolbetpy
Saigon - Vietnam - January 2023