Vietnam’s multiple award-winning indie hit The Third Wife has won yet another international recognition at the annual Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival (BAFF) 2019.
The drama by Vietnamese director Ash Mayfair was honored with the Special Mention, one of the three major awards of the festival that concluded on Monday night in the Thai capital.
The Third Wife is set in 19th century rural Vietnam and revolves around a 14-year-old girl who is married into a wealthy family to be the third wife of a powerful landowner.
It tackles injustice faced by Vietnamese women in the past and other outdated customs such as arranged child marriage, gender prejudice and polygamy.
In their remarks, the BAFF 2019 jury said the Vietnamese film is “a combination of a sensual delicacy and a dreamy atmosphere.”
“The director gives nuances to a classic narrative style,” the jury commented.
“The film is testimony to meticulous craftsmanship with strong performance and confident directing.”
Ever since its international debut in 2016, The Third Wife, produced by Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, has bagged many prestigious awards, including “Best Asian Film” at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
The independent film has been commercially shown in 28 countries and territories, and hit the silver screen in Vietnam in mid-May.
However, the producer decided to cease screening in all cinemas in Vietnam only three days after the premiere, amid a controversy surrounding the ‘suggestive scenes’ of the lead female role, played by Nguyen Phuong Tra My, who was under 13 years old during filming.
The top award of Monday night, the Best ASEAN Film, went to Manta Ray, a 2018 drama film written and directed by Thailand’s Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, while the Jury Prize was awarded to the Filipino movie Balangiga: Howling Wilderness by Khavn De La Cruz.
The Best ASEAN Film was granted US$10,000, whereas the Jury Prize and Special Mention winners received $5,000 and $2,000, respectively.
The BAFF 2019 also honored Garin Nugroho, one of the most important contemporary Indonesian filmmakers, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for raising the profile and shaping cultural identity of Southeast Asian cinema in the past three decades.
ASEAN, fully known as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a socio-economic bloc of ten countries in Southeast Asia that was founded on August 8, 1967. Its member states include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The BAFF has been organized annually since 2015 by Thailand’s Ministry of Culture to promote the role of movies as “an agent of mutual understanding and to present cultural riches, ways of life, beliefs and identities of ASEAN members.”
In its fifth edition this year, the festival took place from July 3 to 8, with ten titles from seven ASEAN countries competing for the three major awards.