The project was produced by Johnson and Live Cinema UK and funded by the British Council in partnership with Hanoi-based Vietnam Film Institute, as well as the Center for Assistance and Development of Movie Talents.

With a population of 97 million people and 45 million registered motorbikes, that is almost one motorbike for every two people.

Motorbikes have become a symbol of work, travel, technology, and escape in Vietnam.

The sounds of engines and horns create a symphony of Vietnamese life.

‘Dust & Metal’ not only brings back memories and reflects the present but also arouses contemplation of the future as urban planners aim to restrict motorbikes after 2030 to reduce pollution.

The film director honored the two-wheel vehicle as Vietnam’s cultural heritage.

“With ‘Dust & Metal,’ I looked for stories about the typical relations between Vietnam and motorbikes,” Johnson said.

The script integrates extracts from interviews that Johnson made with eminent Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Van Thuy and visual artist Dang Ai Viet.

She also accessed rare archive film footage thanks to the cooperation with the Vietnam Film Institute.

With a live score composed and performed by Vietnamese artist Nguyen Xinh Xo, director of audio and music technology at the University of Silicon Valley in the U.S., and sound designed by Nguyen Nhung, the documentary is like a ‘cine-concert.’

Nguyen Hoang Phuong, director of the Center for Assistance and Development of Movie Talents, said the ‘cine-concert’ concept remains new in Vietnam.

The audience is familiar with performances of one of the two forms, not both on the same stage.

In cinema, sound effects can increase depth and create more atmospheres for films. For sound designers, each film will challenge their creativity.

‘Dust & Metal’ is a great opportunity for them to cooperate and help Vietnamese filmmakers to learn about ‘cine-concert’ through the collaboration with local and international sound designers, Phuong emphasized.

The documentary was brought to the 2022 Sheffield DocFest and the Da Nang Asian Film Festival 2023 in May this year.

It will be screened in Ho Chi Minh City with live music performed by artist Nguyen Xinh Xo on Friday next week.