VIETNAM: Officially Banned, Unofficially a Smash Hit

YVONNE EPPS WRITES – It’s been banned, but can you really keep it under wraps if it’s already been leaked onto the web?

Earlier this summer, the National Cinema Department (NCD) instrumented a hasty campaign to ban Bui Doi Cho Lon (Life in Chinatown) directed by Vietnamese-American Charlie Nguyen, but the film has resurfaced as a viral sensation after being leaked two weeks ago. The buzz spread a month after its ban in the form of an 87 minute YouTube video of the film’s draft. It has been long since removed, but various viewers downloaded and continue to distribute it onto other media sharing sites. ThanNienNews reported that this violates Vietnamese law and damages the creators’ reputation. In addition, the Ministry of Information and Communications is thought to be better equipped to deal with the exposure. The NCD has yet to make a public statement.

The film was banned for its violent content and positive lack of law enforcement themes, fearing that it would incite misbehavior among readers. But it seems the audience simply enjoys its forbidden nature. Whether the setting is Chinatown or a pirate ship, any audience feeds off the thrill of banned content that spreads like wildfire on the web.

But Nguyen is troubled, worrying about the banning effect on the audience, but due to the drama surrounding the film, responses are positive. Pirated DVDs of the film have been circulating in the streets since the leak, with a total of 64 having been seized from Hue City, Thua Thien-Hue and Hanoi so far, says Saigon-GP Daily.

Nguyen and his affiliates will never see those profits as the pirating culture is benefiting from the viral leak. However, despite the law’s efforts, Life in Chinatown ironically seems to be a hit with the public, but not for Nguyen’s intended reasons.


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