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[InC-terview] IWC Filmmaker Recipient - Tran Anh Hung!

By Flora  /  03 Dec 2016 (Saturday)
Photo Credit: IWC Schaffhausen​

InCinemas sat down with Vietnamese-born French film director Tran Anh Hung, together with IWC Schaffhausen managing director SEA Matthieu Dupont to talk about cinema, Hung’s filmmaking journey, and his challenges in making his latest romantic drama, Eternity. 

Hung is the first recipient of the IWC Filmmaker Award at the 27th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) which was presented to Hung on 26 November. He also premiered his film, Eternity (Eternite) at the SGIFF starring French bigwigs such as Audrey Tautou (Amelie, 2001; The Da Vinci Code, 2006), Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Bastards, 2009), Berenice Bejo (Brave, 2012). 

Photo Credit: 27th SGIFF

InCinemas: Hi Matthieu, can you tell us more about the IWC Filmmaker Award and what was the selection process like, that led to Hung as the recipient of this award? 

Matthieu: The IWC Filmmaker Award came about because we really want to ensure that our support to the SGIFF gives a clear message to Southeast Asia. The filmmaker award from our side is to thank, congratulate and also give out a message to Southeast Asian future talents to ensure them that we like to reward creations that are in line with the Southeast Asian culture in particular. And our wish to thank icons and thank these talents that have left a legacy behind and at the same time, to support upcoming filmmakers who have future creations coming forward. 

For Hung, it started with a conversation we had with the SGIFF on a certain number of names that represented that goal that I’ve mentioned - that they give a strong message of contributing towards the cultural creation in Southeast Asia - and it’s through that, that Hung’s name came up. We looked at his filmography, his cultural background, and the internal discussions that it was very clear that Hung is the best person to reward and to thank. 

InCinemas: Hi Hung, what are your thoughts about receiving this award?

Hung: I think this is a great honour for a filmmaker, and as a filmmaker, I have been making movies for more than 20 years and the important thing for me is always to try to give the audience a new form and new emotions, to change something that is very deep inside of them. To be awarded by IWC, it’s very precious to me. I think this is really a great honour for me. 

I’ve only made six movies in my 20 years and it’s only because it is difficult to find the money to finance these projects, so having this award, I hope it will somehow help for me to find sponsors and partners easier. 


Photo Credit: 27th SGIFF

InC: Let’s talk about your latest film, Eternity. This is your first French feature film. What are the challenges making this film?

Hung: The challenge is only in the language of cinema. It is not really a problem working with French stars or with a big budget. I don’t think that one day I will have too much money to make a movie. [Laughs] The only thing for me that is important is the language of cinema. It’s the only way to touch people deeply. It’s through the language - not the story, not the theme, but really it’s the language. That’s the only way to touch profoundly and to really use the specific language of this art. This was the main challenge.

InC: Where did the inspiration for Eternity come about?

Hung: I read the book The Elegance of Widows by Alice Ferney, which I adapted from it. The book moved me very much, and that was the reason why I decided to make it into a movie. And also the book suggest to me a new form of cinema - a challenge that I want to take on. In this movie, I would like to propose a very simple definition of eternity. It’s the idea of man and a woman, they meet, love each other and then they have children - that’s how eternity can last. It’s this feeling of time passing, this is the matter of this movie. 

InC: There are many great novels out there. What stood out for you in ‘The Elegance of Widows’ that made you want to adapt this into a feature film?

Hung: Because the book has no story and no scenes… and of course, when you adapt a book, the first idea you have is to create scenes. To embody all these ideas but if you do so, you will miss what the definitive concept of the book; the idea is that you look at life from a far away point of view and not going precisely on details, etc. It’s the only way to give the feeling of time passing and the only way that you will never stop at anything. 

(Read all about our coverage for SGIFF 2016 here!)

Photo Credit: IWC Schaffhausen​


InC: The SGIFF is all about celebrating films. On a personal level, what do films mean to you?

Hung: Emotions! Films mean emotions. It’s not about learning something about the politics, or about the country or about social problems. It’s only about emotions. Meaning that you can tell a story and just giving to the people the feeling of love. And when it ’s really moving, it changes something inside of you. This is the goal of movies, for me at least. It’s about emotions.

Matthew: It couldn’t have been better said like what Hung just talked about. For me, I would say storytelling. There is absolutely the emotional factor in a beautiful story that you watch, absorb and interpret it in your own way. The thing that mocks you but it doesn’t leave you indifferent in any way. So absolutely emotions for sure, but maybe from our side is more storytelling which is always a very important factor as well. 

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