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CINEMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM

The cinema had always been popular in French Indochina before World War II – 52 cinemas operated in colonial Vietnam in 1932. Cinema in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) first appeared in southern Vietnam in 1948, when a number of propaganda reports were filmed in chaotic and difficult conditions, such as The Capture of the Moc Hoa Post, The Battle of Tra Vinh, or the Production of Soap in Warzone IX. Khuong Me was one of the best-known southern film-makers in the DRV at this time. In 1950, the north also took to cinema with the filming of the capture of Dong Khe during the battle of Cao Bang. The film was hurried off to Beijing where it was developed, then shipped on to Berlin by the Trans-Siberian Railway to be shown during the World Youth Festival. The Vietnamese delegation returned from East Germany with cinematographic material and, with the assistance of Chinese filmmakers, they produced in 1952 the film Vietnam in Combat. It was shown at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in then-communist Czechoslovakia. In 1953, DRV Vietnamese filmmakers shot their own film, a long documentary entitled the Victory of the Northwest. Even if it was no work of art, the film’s authors, Mai Loc and Tran Loi, succeeded in obtaining clear images from the shadow of a thick jungle canopy, and this in a time of war. This filmmaking experience served the Vietnamese well at the time of the battle of Dien Bien Phu, when the Vietnamese team joined forces with the Soviet filmmaker Roman Karmen to produce a reconstitution of the historic battle. They spliced the parts together in Hanoi after the return of the DRV to Hanoi in late 1954/1955 to make a propaganda documentary of the historic battle. In the early 1950s, the DRV projected Chinese communist films in base camps for propaganda purposes. Ngo Van Chieu recalled the showing of a film praising the heroic victory of Chinese communists over Chiang Kai-shek’s troops: “At the end of the film, we discussed it while a commissar delivered a speech on the struggle we were leading and the achievements of the socialist countries”. Little is known of cinema in the Associated States of Indochina or the French Union forces. See also CINEMA, FRANCE; CULTURE; EMULATION CAMPAIGN; INDOCTRINATION; NEW HERO; NOVELS; PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE; RECTIFICATION.