The three-minute film Thuoc La va Nguoi Lon (Tobacco and Adults), made by ninth graders from the Le Quy Don Secondary School in HCM City, won first prize at the fifth filmmaking contest for Vietnamese students.

This is the second time that Nguyen Lam Tuyen, Nguyen Hoang Du and Tran Nguyen Tuong Vi have received awards after their film Mot Ngay Cua Than Dong Tuong Lai (A Day of a Future Genius), won second prize last year.

Their new film centres on the daily life of a boy surrounded by smokers. "While growing up, my grandfather smoked, my father smoked, my teacher smoked. Even my friends experimented with the odd cigarette. Purchasing tobacco is as easy as getting your hands on candy," according to the main character.

"People usually have an array of excuses for not giving up smoking. Some say it brings them pleasure, providing them full possession of their senses. Students mostly smoke to be more like real men."

Tuyen, who penned the script and played the leading role, said that he had chosen to write about smoking for its reality.

"I believe that if adults wanted their children to grow up in a healthy environment, they would first limit their own intake or smoke in regulated areas to set an example. We hope that viewers would think about the positives of smoking in front of children," he explained.

Tuong Vi said she has often been subjected to passive smoking without the means to do anything about it.

"While both my friends and I feel uncomfortable, it would seem impolite to react. Dozens of our fellow students have picked up the habit of smoking because of the bad examples set by adults," she said.

School Principal Ho Thi Tuyet To expressed her interest in the topic: "They've done a great job in making this film based on a topic close to their hearts. I think it's a great means of telling people about the harmful effects of tobacco."

Being from different classes, all three students were connected by their shared passion for filmmaking. It took them only one month to develop the script, borrow a film camera and accumulate suitable actors.

The contest, themed as The Things We Need to Learn, was organised by the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam in co-operation with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to help teenage film lovers realise their ideas and dreams through the process of putting together three-minute films.

Winners are set to take part in the Asian Children's Film Festival in Japan in December. /.