Da Nang, Vietnam, held its first edition this year, Danang Asian Film Festival (DANAFF) (9 – 13 May, 2023). Finally the legislation in Vietnam was changed at the beginning of 2023 – the new Law on Cinema permits the establishment of festivals such as Danang. And NETPAC was proud to be a supporting organisation. As part of this NETPAC members were invited to submit films for selection. Selected were World War III (Iran) and Muru (from New Zealand). Furthermore the two Presidents were invited, Bina Paul selecting to chair the Netpac jury and Anne Demy- Geroe to present at a half day industry seminar on The Japanese Experience, comprised of prominent Vietnamese and Japanese industry figures and chaired by Philip Cheah.
The festival’s goals are to encourage new Vietnamese and Asian cinema talents through two competitive sections, Asian Film Awards and Vietnam Film Awards. Over these two sections winners in 2023 included documentary Children of the Mist by Vietnamese director Ha Le Diem for best film; Kavich Neang from Cambodia for best director for While Building, Saim Sadiq and Maggie Briggs from Pakistan for best screenplay for Joyland. Juliet Bao Ngoc Doling was named best actress for her role in the Vietnamese drama Glorious Ashes. The NETPAC Award for Best Vietnamese Film went to Memento Mori: Earth directed by Marcus Mang Cuong VU.
Mohsen Tanabandeh with his best actor award and the special jury award for the film, “World War III” at DANAFF in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang. Directed by Hooman Seyyedi, the film was Iran’s submission to the 2023 Oscars. Danang was almost a repeat of Venice -Tanabandeh had already been honoured with the Orizzonti Award for best actor at the 79th Venice International Film Festival and “World War III” had won the Orizzonti Award for best film.
However there was perhaps a particular resonance in the Danang win. The film is about Shakib, a homeless day laborer who has never recovered from the loss of his wife and son in an earthquake years ago. He works on a construction site which is to become the set for a film about the atrocities committed by Hitler during WWII and he himself will have a role. Danang was where, at 9.03am on 8 March 1965, 3,500 US marines disembarked from their landing crafts and waded on to Vietnam's shores, becoming the first American ground troops to arrive in the country for what the Vietnamese call the American War.