Director Pham Nhue Giang’s latest film, Tam Hon Me (Mother’s Heart) will be screened among other Vietnamese films during the 17th National Film Festival on December 15-17.

Giang’s Mother’s Heart arrives after eight years of television series productions. The film’s script was adapted by the director from Vietnamese novelist Nguyen Huy Thiep’s short story.

The film centres upon a mother and daughter living on a sandbank in the Hong (Red) River and follows tasks in their daily lives such as going to the Long Bien market at midnight to buy wholesale groceries which they sell at a local market during the day.

The opening scene focuses on life at a Hanoi wholesale night market which begins late in the evening and finish early in the morning.

The single mother begins a dysfunctional relationship with a driver and can’t break it off despite her business suffering because of it.

Disgruntled by her mother’s relationship, the daughter attempts to replace her mother’s affection by devoting her affection to a classmate who lives with his grandparents.

The daughter becomes a mother figure to her classmate, with her strong personality and growing sense of responsibility.

Director Giang said casting the young people in the film was difficult, but the two chosen were perfect for their roles in the film.

“I went to nearly 20 junior schools and art centres to look for actors and I found Tung Lam for the character of Dang only two days before shooting began,” she said.

The daughter, played by Hoai Linh, met the director two years ago, and was nearly deemed too old to play the role, “I wanted the daughter to be a little smaller, but I’m satisfied with the little actors,” Giang said.

The film is the second collaboration between director Giang and actress Hong Anh and in Mother’s Heart, the A-list actress has a nude scene to highlight the mother’s drunken behaviour.

The daughter has to take care of her mother, who becomes distraught when her lover begins to neglect her.

“Hong Anh is the first and final actress I thought of for the part of the mother,” Giang said.

The film builds to an intense and emotional finale where both mother and daughter must confront one another.

Post-production for the 95-minute film, which is set in the capital of Hanoi , was done in France , with financial support coming from the French Fonds Sud Cinema.

“I like the background of the film - it’s unique because of the beautiful natural areas which are next to this modern city,” an audience member said after seeing the film.

“There is a very poor and wild place next to a modern and developing capital with many high buildings - it’s a place for poor, underprivileged people,” Giang said.

Giang has become a well-known, multi-award winning director in Vietnam and won three major prizes for her 2001 film Thung Lung Hoang Vang (The Deserted Valley) including the Silver Lotus Prize at the 13th Vietnam National Film Festival, the First Prize at the 52nd Melbourne International Film Festival, and second prize from the Vietnam Association of Cinematography.

Before competing at the national festival, Giang’s third film Mother’s Heart was screened at universities in the US at the invitation of the Institute for Vietnamese Culture and Education last month./.