Vietnamese cinema has taken a giant step forward over the past decade and local audiences are starting to return to the silver screen, according to participants at a workshop reviewing the advance of domestic film makers on March 8.

Ngo Phuong Lan, an official from the Culture Ministry's Cinema Department, said that Vietnamese cinema has lured local audiences back to the seventh art and taken part in more international film festivals since the Asia-Pacific Film Festival in 2000.

Movies by four main sources - including films funded by the State, private sponsors, overseas Vietnamese, and indie movies - have made great contributions to local cinema,

There are only two to five films funded by the State produced every year, focusing on the revolutionary fighting tradition, history and human-interest stories.

These genres of films find it difficult to attract audiences due to their quality, content and limited number, Lan said.

Films produced by private companies have proved a lot more popular, with their entertaining and interesting themes proving a hit in box offices. For example, Long Ruoi (Mr Long with a Beauty Spot) sold out 150,000 tickets worth 9.5 billion VND (431,800 USD) in just three days, while Co Dau Dai Chien (Battle of the Brides) made 23 billion VND (1.05 million USD) in two weeks.

Some private producers has invested heavily in films that look at more serious topics like history with high art quality, which is an encouraging sign for private film development, she said.

In recent years, many overseas Vietnamese directors have returned home to make movies like Charlie Nguyen, Cuong Ngo and Hoang Thien Tru. Beside their success, they have also courted controversy over the content of their works.

The indie movie genre has only appeared in recent years, but includes Norwegian Woods, Bi, Don't Be Scared! and Floating Lives, which have all received accolades at international film festivals, she said.

However, the genre has not received much support from local audiences as it is fairly new, she added.

According to Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat, deputy chairperson of the Vietnam Cinema Association, a decade is not a long time which makes it difficult to review the industry's progress.

It's been ten years since the first Golden Kite Awards was held, and although no golden awards were handed out in 2004, 2007 or 2008, things are certainly diversifying.

While in previous years, golden awards were only bestowed on State-funded films, this year, films by private companies outnumbered those made by State companies, she said.

Among the 12 films in contention, ten were made by private companies, and two by State companies.

The Golden Kite Awards ceremony will be held in Hanoi on March 17.

Workshop participants also looked at weak points in Vietnamese cinema and how to solve them. These included low-quality scripts, releases strategies and training.

The opinions will be the foundation for the Cinema Department to draft a strategy for developing Vietnamese cinema to 2020 with a vision to 2030-VNA