New law requires foreign films to submit abridged script

The amended Cinema Law was passed Wednesday with a 90 percent vote in the National Assembly. It will take effect on January 1, 2023.

The law stipulates that foreign organizations and individuals producing movies in Vietnam should use services provided by Vietnamese cinema establishments. If the film uses a setting in Vietnam, it must be licensed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The application file for a license must include an abridged script of the film and a detailed script of the scenes shot in Vietnam in Vietnamese.

Applications should be submitted through the National Public Service Portal, by mail or in person. If the permit is not granted, the ministry must clearly state the reasons for the refusal.

Nguyen Dac Vinh, Chairman of the Committee for Culture and Education, said that during the discussions, there were two streams of opinions on this issue.

One wanted foreign filmmakers to provide a summary script of the film and detailed scripts of scenes shot in Vietnam. This would help state management agencies keep track of sensitive factors and create favorable conditions for foreign filmmakers at the same time.

The second opinion was that foreign filmmakers be asked to provide the entire screenplay in Vietnamese because the summary would not represent the entire content of the film. This would help the management agency to properly evaluate, appraise, manage and ensure that all conditions, including politics, national defense and security, are met.

However, the committee felt both options posted the risk of the movie script being changed after being appraised and licensed by the competent authority.

Therefore, the law should stipulate that no matter which plan is implemented, foreign filmmakers must commit not to violate the Constitution and laws of Vietnam; undermine national unity; infringe upon national sovereignty; and otherwise harm the national interests and cultural values of Vietnam.

The National Assembly Standing Committee asked delegates to vote on the two options, and the majority of delegates chose the first one.

The law also stipulates that before publishing films on the Internet, production units must classify them, accept legal responsibility for classification of content and notify the culture ministry with the list of films that will be screened online.