Award-winning filmmaker Hai Ninh passed away on February 5 in Hanoi after a long illness.

Born in 1931 in Thanh Hoa central province, Ninh was a director at the Vietnam Feature Film Studio. He was among the students in the first directing course in the Vietnam Cinema and Stage College.

His death came as a shock to his family because he looked healthy in recent days and was happy to prepare for the upcoming Tet holiday, according to his son, director Nguyen Thanh Van.

The director was hospitalised ten days ago when he fainted from low blood pressure.

In his last days, the director was working on a book on Vietnamese actors, according to veteran actress Tra Giang, who starred in Ninh’s most popular movie, “Vi Tuyen 17 Ngay va Dem” (Days and Nights at the 17th Parallel).

A few months ago, Ninh finished the script for “Hanoi’s Mother”, a sequel to his previous movie “Em Be Hanoi” (The Little Girl of Hanoi).

Along with “Vi Tuyen 17 Ngay va Dem” and “Moi Tinh Dau” (Love Story), “Em Be Hanoi” was a milestone of Vietnam’s revolutionary cinema.

Made in 1973 towards the end of the US war, with considerable assistance from the Vietnamese film industry, “Vi Tuyen 17 Ngay va Dem” focuses on a married couple who witness the separation of Vietnam into North and South. Actress Tra Giang won the Best Actress Award at the Moscow Film Festival in 1973 for her role as the wife.

“Em Be Hanoi” is often called the director’s best feature film. Partly filmed during the US bombing of Hanoi in 1972, the simple but powerful story centres on a little girl wandering through the rubble of the city, looking for her parents. Eventually a soldier takes her under his wing.

The film won awards both locally and internationally, including the Golden Lotus prize at the Vietnam Film Festival 1975 and a diploma at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1975.

Ninh was awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize in 2007.-VNA