Sports & Entertainment
Vietnamese film sparks animal rights debate
  • | GDXH, baodatviet, dtinews.vn | April 24, 2014 10:49 AM
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During the making of a recently released film three cats were said to have been abused and killed, prompting those concerned with animal cruelty in the country to speak up.

 

A cat from the film “Vua Di Vua Khoc”

The film “Vua Di Vua Khoc” or “Crying on the way” by director Vu Ngoc Dang attracted attention after it was broadcast on VTV3, a channel of Vietnam Television (VTV). One of the most prominent scenes features a young man dressing up in expressive clothes and driving a luxury car. He then stops at a river and wades through brackish water to rescue a kitten that is stranded on a floating piece of wood.



A scene in "Vua Di Vua Khoc" in which the young man rescued a kitten that is stranded on a floating piece of wood

The scene was apparently meant to send a message of care for animals and initially earned praise for this reason. However, in an online column, the director, Vu Ngoc Dang, was asked by someone claiming to represent an animal rights group about the fate of the cat used in the film. Dang responded that the cat was borrowed from a cast member, properly cared for and safely returned after filming.

But the discussion did not end with the directors original reply. An anonymous person who claimed to have a friend who worked on the film set said that in fact three cats were used to shoot the scene, two of which died. The person also claimed that while the fate of the third was uncertain, they suspected it had also died because of the bad treatment it received after production.

The situation continued to escalate when members of the Vietnam Animal Lovers’ Association sent a letter to the Animals Asia Foundation. The situation prompted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to issue a statement which was sent to Vietnamese press agencies and VTV. The statement asked that VTV stop broadcasting the film.

 

Director Vu Ngoc Dang with a small duck used in one of his films. Dang claims he loves animals much

Both the film’s director and assistant director denied the claim and insisted that all cats in the film were still alive and healthy.

However, inconsistencies in their stories did not help to win public confidence. While Dang had originally said they borrowed one cat from an artist and safely returned it to the owner, the deputy director Hung Cuong claimed that he was directly responsible for cats in the film and they bought two cats that looked alike so they could replace each other, and after had found them a home.

The filmmakers even made a video of the actress they claimed to have borrowed the cat from in which she states that it was her cat, that she had lent it for the purposes of making the film and that it was still alive and growing.

This did not quell the growing anger among animal lovers who immediately called the video a ploy.

According to a director and a lecturer at the School of Theatre and Cinema of Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Dang, filming with animals in Vietnam poses certain difficulties because there is a lack of animals trained to be in films. As a result, he said, they must use untrained animals for production, which can be challenging for the filmmaker and potentially dangerous for the animals.

“I think any incidents in the film making process that cause harm to animals are unintentional and unexpected,” he commented.

Before Vua Di Vua Khoc, director Vu Ngoc Dang had also succeeded in using mice, ducks and cats in several films including Bong Dung Muon Khoc, Tuyet Nhiet Doi, Hotboy Noi Loan.

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