Phan Dang Di's latest film will premiere at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), becoming the first Vietnamese film to compete for the top prize at the film fest.

The film entitled, Cha, Con Va (Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories) stars Do Thi Hai Yen (Quiet American, Pao's Story and Adrift), Le Cong Hoang and Truong The Vinh. Yen is also the producer of the film.

Di said he is happy to see that a Vietnamese film has finally made it in the global film industry, catching up with other international film projects on a competitive stage. "It will compete with them for the grand award, the ‘comme il faut,'" he said.

The movie tells the story of young people trying to scrape together a living on Sai Gon's mean streets and even allowing themselves to be sterilised for cash in their desperation.

"Cha, Con Va" is one of three Asian films competing at the 65th Berlinale, including Gone with the Bullets by Wen Jiang (China) and Taxi by Jafar Panahi (Iran).

The Berlinale announced the list of films to be considered for Golden and Silver Bear Awards on January 14. The list is comprised of Cha, Con Va and other 15 films. The complete programme for the competition and screening schedule will be announced next week.

Di's film was chosen over 130 projects from 48 countries to receive a grant 40,000 Euros from the World Cinema Fund (WCF) at the Berlinale. It is one among four film projects funded by the WCF.

WCF was founded by the Berlinale and the German Federal Cultural Foundation in 2004, which in turn is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Goethe Institute. Many movie projects supported by the WCF have won prizes at the world's top film festivals.

This is the second film of director Di after Bi, or Don't Be Afraid. The film was also funded by the WCF in 2008. It went on to win two prizes in the Critics Week category at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010. Last year, a film project directed by Nguyen Hoang Diep, with Di as the producer—Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere—received 50,000 Euros from the WCF.

In addition to director Di and producer–actress Yen and their film crew, director Nguyen Thi Tham and screenwriter Nguyen My Trang of the documentary The Last Journey of Madame Phung will also represent Vietnamese cinema at the 65th Berlinale.

The documentary exposes the hard life of transgender entertainers in a travelling troupe in southern Vietnam. It won the special award at the second Chopshots, a Documentary Film Festival in Southeast Asia.

Founded in 1951, the Berlinale is considered as one among the three oldest and most prestigious film festivals, together with Cannes (France) and the Venice (Italy) film festivals.

This year's festival will be held from February 5 to 15. With director, screenwriter and producer Darren Aronofsky serving as Jury President, the international jury will decide who receives the Golden Bear and Silver Bear awards at the 2015 Berlinale.-VNA