The documentary explored the longstanding tradition of ‘bride-kidnapping’ among the Mong ethnic minority in the northwest mountainous region of Vietnam.

Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha and People’s Artist Nhu Quynh presented the award to the director at the awards ceremony held at Da Nang’s Trung Vuong Theatre on May 13.

The judging panel selected it as the best among twelve films of the Asian competition award, and eight films of the Vietnamese film competition at the week-long festival.

It’s the longest documentary that I have ever produced. From 2017 to 2021, I encountered numerous challenges while trying to secure funding and support for the project,” Diem remarked.

I am deeply grateful to the funding organizations, friends, and the entire film crew for their unwavering support throughout the production. I extend my sincerest thanks to the film’s main subject, Ma Thi Di, and the rest of the Mong community for allowing me to experience and explore their culture and lifestyle.

The 32-year-old director enthused that she was captivated by documentary film production, as it allowed her to dive into different cultural topics, particularly those concerning children and women.

I’ll keep exploring more films focusing on children and women because I strongly believe that children possess immense energy and vitality.

Bride-kidnapping, also known as bridenapping, bride-stealing, or marriage by abduction, is a practice in which a man abducts the woman he wishes to marry. This practice is found in cultures across the world, especially in regions of Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. In some societies, bride kidnapping is seen as a way to avoid arranged marriages and give young people a chance to choose their own spouse. In other cultures, bride-kidnapping is seen as a violation of the rights of women and is condemned as a criminal act.

Diem’s film, named on the shortlist for the 15 contenders in the Best Documentary Film Category at the 95th Academy Awards (Oscars), tells the story of a 12-year-old Mong girl living in a remote, mountainous village. Here, women are often married off at a young age, and the tradition of ‘bride-kidnapping’ is still practiced. This powerful documentary gives a unique insight into the deeply-rooted culture of this rural community.

After she was gone, her family and friends started to search for her.

Ma Thi Di, the central character of the film, starts her teenage life with both physical and emotional changes. However, her parents are not particularly mindful of her immaturity. On Lunar New Year’s Eve, Di suddenly disappeared, causing her family and friends to frantically search for her.

Diem, a passionate filmmaker, began her journey in 2013 when she started studying film. Her first short film, Con Đi Trường Học, was released to critical acclaim in 2014. The film, which features an HIV-positive single mother from the Dao ethnic group, won the prestigious Silver Kite Award at the Vietnam Cinema Association Awards (Kite Awards). Diem has since continued to make waves in the film industry with her captivating stories and creative vision.

The special jury award of the Asian film competition was bestowed upon World War III – an Iranian thriller conceived, directed, produced and edited by Houman Seyyedi. The film is a masterpiece that has been praised by critics for its engaging story and powerful performances.

Iranian actor Mohsen Tanabandeh, who starred in World War III, won the Best Actor Award in the Asian Film division, while Juliet Bao Ngoc Doling, cast in Glorious Ashes, took the Best Actress Award.

Director Kavich Neang, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was recently awarded the Best Director prize for his film While Building in the Asian film category. Meanwhile, the Best Screenplay award went to Joyland of Pakistan.

In the Vietnamese film competition category, the Screenplay Award was handed to Nha Uyen and her husband Aaron Toronto, for Đêm Tối Rực Rỡ (The Brilliant Darkness).

The brilliant darkness dominated the award ceremony, with Nha Uyen winning the Best Actress prize and Huynh Kien An taking the Best Actor. It was a truly remarkable night for both of them, as their performances were unforgettable. Both of them have worked hard to get to where they are today and this recognition is certainly well-deserved.

It was an honor for me and the entire film crew. I would like to dedicate this prize to my wife, who hails from Da Nang, and to my colleagues who helped make this film possible,” An stated.

Toronto praised acclaimed actress Nha Uyen for her courageous casting and stellar performance in the film.

He declared that the success of the film would contribute significantly to the growth of Vietnam’s film industry in the future.

The Brilliant Darkness also won the Special Jury Award in the Vietnamese film category.

Tran Thanh, the director of Nhà Bà Nữ (The House of No Men), was awarded Best Actor at the Vietnamese Film Competition, and the award was received by his wife, Hari Won.

Won, the producer of the film, revealed that her husband was preoccupied with a TV show.

She said the couple endured the most arduous time while creating the movie, along with the tremendous effort of the film crew, actors, and actresses.

The House of No Men has won the prestigious Best Vietnamese Film Award, cementing its status as one of the best films in the country.

The best Vietnamese film in the Audience’s Choice Award went to Siêu Lừa Gặp Siêu Lầy (Hustler Vs Scammer) by director Vo Thanh Hoa.

The NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award for Vietnamese film was recently presented to Đất (Memento Mori: Earth). This acclaimed film was recognized for its outstanding portrayal of the human experience. The award celebrates the contributions of filmmakers from across Asia to the global film industry.

The Republic of Korea’s renowned film actress-director-screenwriter Moon Sori, who is chairing the jury at the festival, said that all members had engaged in extensive deliberations to select the best awards.

The enchanting city of Da Nang recently hosted a prestigious film festival that was co-organized by the People’s Committee of Da Nang, the Vietnam Association of Film Promotion and Development (VFDA), and Da Nang’s Department of Culture and Sports. This remarkable event provided an excellent opportunity for the city to become a hub for renowned international film producers and stars in the future.