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Việt Nam News documentary to be screened at international film festival

HÀ NỘI — A documentary produced by Viet Nam News will be screened at an international film festival next month.

One Year On – The Essex Lorry Tragedy was a special production made to mark the anniversary of the deaths of 39 Vietnamese who perished as they tried to illegally enter the UK in October 2019.

Viet Nam News journalists Paul Kennedy and Hồ Hoang travelled to Yen Thanh District in the Central Viet Nam province of Nghe An to a small community hit hard by the tragedy.

Viet Nam News journalist Hồ Hoang speaks to the man who lost his son in the Essex lorry tragedy. — VNS Photo Paul Kennedy

Even though only around 400 people live in the area, four families lost loved ones in the tragedy.

The documentary, which was screened on VNews TV to mark the anniversary of the tragedy, has been selected to feature at the 11th Pune International Short Film Festival in Maharashtra, India.

A woman tends to the grave of her husband who died in the Essex lorry tragedy. — VNS Photo Paul Kennedy

Producer Paul Kennedy said: “Getting recognition from your peers for the work you do is something all journalists hope for throughout their careers.

“But with this particular project, our goal was to highlight the plights of those poor innocent people who perished in the back of a lorry in the United Kingdom.

“The fact that our documentary has been selected to be screened at an international film festival is not because of how it was produced, or how it was edited or how it was shot.

“In my opinion, the shining light in this project that made it stand out from the rest was the honesty and bravery of the relatives of those who died, who without question, allowed us into their homes and opened up their hearts to talk about their losses."

The lorry where the bodies of 39 Vietnamese were discovered in October 2019. — AFP/VNA Photo.

As well as families who lost sons, daughters, wives and husbands, the documentary also features the Chairman of the local People’s Committee who discusses the feeling among the community following the deaths, and the efforts made to educate people of the dangers of illegal migration.

Local village elders also appear, outlining the reasoning people take such a risk for a better life, and one man is interviewed who made the journey in the past, but is now advising people not to follow in his footsteps.

“We deliberately avoiding getting into the rights and wrongs of illegal immigration in our production,” Paul added.

“What we focused on was the depth of feeling in the community, and in particular the grieving families, who have had to deal with this enormous loss.

“From a personal point of view, I felt those who died were no different from myself, just leaving their home countries in search of a better life overseas.

“I am just fortunate enough to possess a passport that allows me to travel legally on an airplane and not crammed into the back of a lorry gasping for breath.”

This is not the first award the documentary has received. Earlier this year it was given a “Special Mention” laurel by the Asia South East Short Film Festival.

Now in its 11th year, the Pune Short Film Festival attracts hundreds of entries from around the world, focusing on opportunity creation for international filmmakers.

Screenings will be held in the western Indian city in October. — VNS

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