Moving short film spotlights charity effort

TN News

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 (L-R) Screenwriter Nhu Khanh, director Cuong Ngo, actress Ngo Thanh Van, Dinh Thi Thanh, Cao Hung Vy and actress Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc at a press conference on April 16.

A trailer for Cuoc hanh trinh (The journey), a short film inspired by the true story of a youth who lives in a remote area and struggles with a heart condition, kicked off the third annual fund-raising event for the "Scar of life Glass Heart" project on April 16.

Guests at the event were visibly moved by the plight of the film's protagonists.

Director Cuong Ngo, who impressed local audiences with his feature film Ngoc Vien Dong (Oriental Pearls), released in March, said that he was determined to make a film about the unfortunate family after he heard their story.

"We finished it in six days with good shoots in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat," Cuong said. The filmmaking crew were so moved by the story of the mother and the son that they agreed to work for free.

The film was inspired by Cao Hung Vy and his foster mother Dinh Thi Thanh.

Vy is an orphan who was adopted by Thanh and her husband in Gia Lai Province 20 years ago. The infertile couple has, over several decades, raised seven orphans at different times despite their poverty. One of the seven children was Vy, an infant they found abandoned by a river.

Thanh could not help sobbing as she told reporters about the tough situation she faced when her husband died suddenly, in 2005. She gathered enough money to get Vy's health checked at a hospital three years later. Vy had always been a sickly child; four years ago, she found that it was due to a congenital heart disease.

In 2009, Thanh approached the Vietnam Heartbeat Organization (VHO) in Ho Chi Minh City for assistance. She met VHO head Robin King Austin, who helped fund Vy's first surgery. Vy has undergone many surgeries since; and according to a Tuoi Tre newspaper report, has recovered well after the last procedure, in February.

Thanh said she never dreamed that she and her children would receive such heart-warming help, or that her life would provide material for a film.

Ngo Thanh Van, who plays Thanh on the screen, said that Thanh's journey and fight for her child's life encouraged her to participate in the charity project, which has run for three years, raising funds for children with heart disease. Van has been an ambassador for the Vietnam Heartbeat Organization for the three years.

"The journey" will be released in national cinemas from May 26 to June 1. On May 25, a sneak preview will be held at the White Palace Convention Center in HCMC's Phu Nhuan District.

The May premiere will also introduce noted designer Do Manh Cuong's fashion collection and feature an auction hosted by local celebrities like singer Dam Vinh Hung, model Truong Thi May and first runner-up of Mrs World 2011 Thu Huong. All profits will be donated to VHO.

Ngo Thanh Van's "Scar of Life" has attracted great public attention since its creation in 2010. It has raised over US$250,000 to cover surgery costs for about 460 Vietnamese children with heart problems.

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