18/07/2017 09:37 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

French Director Brings the Image of Vietnam to the World


Olivier Lorelle is a famous French screenwriter who has more than 29 screenplays nominated and honored at major international film festivals such as Cannes, Venise, Berlin and Locarno. He recently worked as director of the film, Ciel Rouge (Red Sky), which was entirely shot in Ba Be Lake (Bac CaN province) and Dong Van (Ha Giang province) in Vietnam.  
We met Olivier Lorelle when he was in Vietnam for the premiere of his film,
"Red Sky" at the French Cultural Centre in Hanoi. He said that he had seen documentaries and read books in some libraries in France and the memoirs of a French soldier who was in the war in Vietnam which inspired the writing of the story for the film.

To select places for shooting scenes of the film, Lorelle arrived in Vietnam and looked at Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh and Ha Giang. He was very impressed by the wild landscape of jungles and mountains near Ba Be Lake and the rocky mountains of Dong Van in Ha Giang province which has not been seen much in films.

"I'm really fascinated by nature in these places. I think that anyone who once sees the scenery will decide to shoot the film like me. These two locations are suitable to the plot and the content of the film," Lorelle said.

French screenwriter Olivier Lorelle, director of the movie Red Sky which  is set entirely near
Ba Be Lake (Bac Can), Dong Van (Ha Giang) in Vietnam. Photo: Cong Dat
Lorelle said that the climate and weather conditions were also a relatively big barrier for shooting the film in these locations.
In the forests the temperature was hot and humid so the actors sometimes felt tired during filming. But, he says,
it helped make the film more authentic.  Photo: Cong Dat
Before shooting the film in 2015, he made two trips to Vietnam in 2013 and 2014 to selects the best places to
shoot the films. He was impressed by the beauty of the wild nature and mountains of these magnificent regions of
Ba Be Lake in Bac Can province and Dong Van in Ha Giang province that are not known in France.   Photo: File

Besides supporting the film makers, Meritus Artist Chieu Xuan also played a role in the film. Photo: Cong Dat

Director Olivier Lorelle and the main actress in the film at a press conference at the debut of the film. Photo: Cong Dat

Director Olivier Lorelle and Vietnamese audiences. Photo: Cong Dat

The film is a love story which begins with a French soldier who was sent to Vietnam in the early years of the Indochina War. He gets lost in a familiar country which is swallowing him. His ideals collapse when he is forced to torture and kill a young Vietnamese woman, named Thi, who is fighting for independence. He is then fascinated by and falls in love with the courageous girl. The couple tried to flee through thick forests and over high mountains to shelter near Ba Be Lake, a wonderful place separated from the outside world and the war. The film ends with a scene where the French soldiers were captured in the mighty mountains of Dong Van. 

Through the film, what the director wants to convey to the public is not the images of war, but the message about the meaning of love.

Olivier Lorelle won the César Award for the Best Screenplay for Rachid Bouchared's 2007 film "Indigènes". The film was nominated for Oscars in the same year. The screenplay of “Hors la loi” by Olivier Lorelle was also nominated for an Oscar in 2010. 

Contrary to films like “Nguoi tinh” (Lovers), “Dien Bien Phu” and Dong Duong” (Indochina) by other French directors that debuted about 20 years ago, "Red Sky" was the first French movie screened in Vietnam that highlights the beauty of nature in the country and the war is only the background to honour the love story of the two main characters.

According to the director, "Red Sky" was filmed in Vietnam in a month, but the production team spent several months prior to that scouting sites and local life. They had many authentic shots of Vietnam’s landscape and ethnic groups. “It’s great to shoot authentic scenes in Vietnam. Normally films about war in Vietnam are filmed in the south. I chose the northern mountains because they are not as well-known,” said the director.

Lorelle said that the climate and weather conditions were also a relatively big barrier for shooting in these locations.  In the forests the temperature is hot and humid so the actors sometimes felt tired during filming. But, he says, it helps the film become more authentic.
Before shooting the film in 2015, he made two trips to Vietnam in 2013 and 2014. Luckily, he got the support of Mathieu Ripka, a Frenchman who has a lot of knowledge about Vietnam.

"I read the memoirs of a French soldier. At the time he participated in the war in Vietnam, there was a lack of everything, especially water.  It says that there are side roots connecting plants to each other and the soldiers cut the trees to have water to drink. When filming, when the two actors try to get water by cutting the roots, I am surprised that it was true. During the days working in Vietnam, we received much support from the Vietnamese team in terms of technique and the hospitality of the local people,"Lorell said.



"I'm really fascinated by the nature in these places. I think that anyone who once sees the scenery will
decide to shoot the film like me. These two locations are suitable to the plot and the content of the film,"
director Olivier Lorelle said. Photo: File
Director Olivier Lorelle and the producer select the main actor and actress of the film. Photo: File
Director Olivier Lorelle said that in the film Vietnam’s nature is also very important. Photo: File 


The main actress on Dong Van Rocky Plateau. Photo: File

In most scenes, Director Olivier Lorelle keeps intact the most honest images of the landscape of Vietnam. Photo:  File

The Vietnamese team supports shooting the film. Photo: File
The natural beauty of Ba Be Lake and magnificent landscape of Dong Van, Meo Vac on screen. Photo: File

The landscape of magnificent mountains and forests in the mountainous areas of Vietnam. Photo: File




Some images of the film. Photo: File

“Red Sky" is screened in France in July, 2017. In addition, Lorelle and film producer Mille Et Une Produtions worked with Vietnamese companies, with the help of Meritus Artist Nguyen Thi Chieu Xuan to prepare for the premiere of the film in Vietnam in November, 2017.

Story: Ngan Ha - Photos: Cong Dat &Files