Documentaries prod viewers into discovering Vietnam

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2009 was a landmark year for national television's documentary makers focusing on presenting Vietnam's natural treasures, its flora and fauna and diverse landscapes to a local audience.
A group of six directors last year completed and broadcast 44 episodes of different series on the VTV2 channel. One of them, featuring marine creatures in the nation's coral reefs, won the Silver Lotus at the latest Vietnam Film Festival last December.
This was the first such prize won by Vietnam Television or VTV.
All six members of the scientific documentary department spent two months at Nha Trang Bay and Con Dao Island to finish the episode.
"Our marine resources are extremely large and of striking beauty, but Vietnamese citizens have had so far to watch foreign seas in foreign films," said director Hoai Nam.
"I think that I have the responsibility to bring the wealth and beauty of Vietnam's seas and the uniqueness its sea creatures to the domestic audience."
Nam said the creatures had stunned them, before they were shown to the audience. And the films won the praise of viewers, some of whom said they had the quality of the famous Discovery channel programs.
The department head, Nguyen Hoang Lam, was invited to be the series' cameraman. Lam was the first Vietnamese photographer to cover normal cameras with plastic bags to use underwater. He also borrowed cameras from people working on salvaging wrecks.
Lam now owns an international certificate for shooting films underwater.
It took longer than two months to make the "Fairy tale about the God of land" series. Six episodes of this series were aired late last year.
Director Hoang Lam had worked with Trinh Danh, former director of Vietnam Geology Museum for a whole year to prepare for this series. They also spent more than one month examining mountains, streams and Vietnam's most beautiful extinct volcanoes such as Bien Ho, Buon Choa and Ham Rong.
The film crew visited the largest underground rivers in the world and fossils hundreds of millions of years old in nearly ten cities and provinces around Vietnam.
The series "Species and features" set several records by using the largest number of directors (6), covering more than 50 fauna species and taking the longest time (five years).
The eight-episode "Pieces of life" that aired in November and December showed how wild animals hunt their prey at night, give birth and take care of their children, and the camouflage they use. It showed swallows and similar birds building their homes, and bats and fish using supersonic waves to communicate and see the world.
In 2010, the department is going to make more films on underwater life and also focus on nature in Hanoi as the capital celebrates its 1,000th anniversary this October.
Following Tuoi Tre reports in May last year about the pioneers for "Discovery Vietnam", Vietnam Television gave the directors nearly VND1 billion (US$54,200) to purchase new equipment.
"We will be off as soon as the new equipment arrives," Lam said.
"But I'm worried the animals will know this and hide themselves," he joked.

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