Hundreds of people queued up at the National Cinema Centre to get free tickets to the third Hanoi International Film Festival (HANIFF) from 9am November 25.

Students, office workers and the elderly stood impatiently waiting for their turn to get the tickets.

Many wished to watch the Vietnamese film Huong Ga (Rise), the only Vietnamese film to be shown on November 26 at the cinema, but tickets quickly ran out.

During the five-day biennial festival, 130 films from 32 countries will be screened in five cinemas in Hanoi. Admission is free, but tickets must be obtained one day before the screening. By 11am, all tickets for November 26 shows at CGV Vincom City Tower and August Cinema were taken.

Four years after the first festival was organised, HANIFF has become well known among the Vietnamese public. This year's festival attracted much more attention than that of any previous year. Tra Mi, ticket distributor at CGV Vincom City Tower, said that the cinema employees had to install extra seats.

In addition to well-known films from the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines and India, two Vietnamese films were eagerly anticipated, Nhung Dua Con Cua Lang (The Village Children) and Dap Canh Giua Khong Trung (Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere).

These films are competing for the "feature-length films" prize; according to festival director and Director General of Vietnam Cinema Department Ngo Phuong Lan, they won the most votes from the selection committee. Dap Canh Giua Khong Trung also won a prize at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival and competed in several other international film competitions.

"We wanted international friends to know more about modern Vietnam, which is not merely a country that has been through war," Lan said.

Other new films focus on the theme of love and happiness, like "Buoc Khe Toi Hanh Phuc" (Gentle Steps to Happiness), Mua He Lanh (Cold Summer) and Lac gioi (Paradise in Heart). Horror film Trai Tim Mau (Vengeful Heart) is also popular.

The festival reflects recent improvements in the domestic film industry, which has often lagged behind rivals in other countries due to low budgets.

Joining the queue for tickets at the National Cinema Centre, Tran Tuan Anh, a student from the Culture University, said he was excited to watch Vietnamese action films at the festival as the good acting made them more interesting than those from the past.

"Many new Vietnamese films being presented at this festival are interesting, much more so than television series. I hope to get more chances to watch films at the cinema for free," said 24-year-old tourism officer Doan Thi Loan.-VNA