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Attractions in Hanoi captured with b/w Holga

There are for sure many attractions in the city of Hanoi, Vietnam. Some of them might not be so obvious like a film presenter who does his job since 30 years. Nguyen Van Long, 60 has this self-created job for this long time. Passers-by are often attracted by his home-made films.

His slogan is unique: “ A solo cartoon in a solo cinema; watch with one eye, hear with one ear; self-made celluloid films – if you like cinema – than give it a try!”

He sits in different locations these days mostly in the Botanical garden or at the Ethnological museum. Dressed in Vietnamese style, with grey hair and a short beard and a trunk full of different items beside him he offers his films to the audience. When a willing customer approaches he goes to always the same procedure. Long covers one o the customer’s eyes, gives him metal headphones with plastic earpieces. The sound is transmitted over wire from his mouth.

Than he loads a 6 mm tape into an ancient projector from the former Soviet Union. The film runs for 5 minutes. Apart from celluloid films he offers as well 3 D movies and films made with moving paper figures. Tickets cost VND 5000, 10.000 or 20.000 per show.

He was born in a tiny village called Van Phuc in Ha Tay Province. He fell in love with cartoons as he was a child and started filmmaking in elementary school. After returning from military service, he toured his solo cinema by bicycle. His repertoire grew steadily and now he can offer more than 250 films of which he made 50 himself.

The film making requires a lot of time, as he told me, and some of his idols are the Ton Ng Khong, or Naughty Monkeys after a known Chinese children film story. He writes his own scripts and creates the sound with his mouth. He says: “The voice of the character is very important, wether it is a child or and old man. He has done these voice-overs for at least ten kinds of animal.

He has been presenting his solo cinema since 1990 and it is still patronized by children and adults in Van Phuc. He presents it for birthday parties and on festivals. Long is very proud of his work and will continue with this job until the end of his days. He earns several thousand dongs on Sundays, but very less on weekdays. He is nearly always available at Thu Le park rain or shine, day or night.

His only worry now is the preservation of his film-making art. His daughter is busy with a silk shop, his son in military. His only hope, he stated, is his nephew who is only three.

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