The motion picture entitled Dem toi ruc ro or The Brilliant Darkness, by Director Aaron Robert Toronto was awarded the prize for “Best Feature Film” at the 19th Golden Kites Awards ceremony held in the coastal city of Nha Trang on September 13.

The message of the award-winning film: Let’s protect children

The ‘funeral ceremony’ with dancing performance in the motion picture The Brilliant Darkness

Borrowing the backdrop of a funeral taking place in Saigon, the award-winning film by an American director unveils the dark side of today’s Vietnamese society.

Right from its official release in April 2022, the movie The Brilliant Darkness has overwhelmed the public with a tragic story depicting Vietnamese daily life. It storyline evolves over the course of a single evening when a Saigon family gathers for their grandfather’s funeral, or rather, “a funeral ceremony” with raucous singing, performances, drinking and gambling.

Revelations of the father having squandered their fortunes and his children confronting decades of trauma emerge as loan sharks threaten to collect what they are owed, in money or blood, by sunrise. Each scene of the film just unfolds the curtain, exposing the dark corners and evils of society: depression, child violence and gambling.

 A scene from the movie The Brilliant Darkness by Director Aaron Toronto

According to film critic Le Hong Lam, The Brilliant Darkness deserves to be “a discovery”, a “brave and fierce” independent film work, especially as it is made by a foreign director.

Receiving the Golden Kite Award, director Aaron Toronto expressed his gratitude to the award organizers, colleagues and individuals from the Vietnam Children’s Fund – who have advised and supported the film project.

“Children are the most innocent members of society. Let’s work together to create a better living environment for children, fight against violence and thereby, we will heal all,” he said.

Actress Nha Uyen – the female lead in the movie The Brilliant Darkness won the “Best Actress” award. Along with her husband, director Aaron Toronto, she also won the award Best Screenplay Writer – Feature Film Category.

“There is a lot of sweat, tear, and even blood of the film-making’s members being shed during the last four years. I used to think about giving up, but kindness lit up my mind. Let’s work together to protect children, keep them safe in their own homes,” she said.

Prestigious awards for young actors and actresses

Young actor Lai Truong Phu (left) in the movie Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy by Director Ham Tran

The Golden Kites Awards 2021 awards ceremony also brought a big surprise to audiences when it honored Lai Truong Phu (from “Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy”) with the award of Best Actor- Motion Picture Category. This 10-year-old actor has excellently surpassed two older candidates, Quoc Truong (Sweet Trap) and Kieu Minh Tuan (The Hundred Billion Keys).

In the film, Lai Truong Phu plays Hung – a boy who has to suffer the sorrow of losing his mother and the separation from his father. The film features quite a few ‘heart-touching’ scenes, according to local film critics, particularly, the scene where Maika – the girl with magic – offered to help Hung erase the sad memories of his mother, but the boy refused because “that sadness is also loved”.

Film director Josh Jacobs-  known for Extraordinary Portraits (2022)- once praised “the main actor of the film acting great and playing his role perfectly”. The award given to Phu was even more special when the boy was only seven when the film was completed. He also became one of few youngest actors to ever win the top prize of this prestigious Film Award.

In addition, two young actors, Kha Ngan and Thanh Son won the award of “Best Actor and Actress- TV series category” for the TV series entitled “11 Months And Five Days”, which won the heart of the young local audience.

The Golden Kites Awards is an annual award of the Vietnam Cinema Association for outstanding works, artists, film and television filmmakers. There were 417 works, including 12 feature films, 14 TV series with 657 episodes, 28 cartoons, 10 science films, 45 documentaries, 35 short films, three research works and theories film critics joined this year’s awards.

Actor Lai Truong Phu and Actress Nha Uyen earned the titles of Best Actor and Best Actress – Motion Picture Category of The Golden Kites Awards 2021. Photo: VTV