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'Ròm' Star Trần Anh Khoa Wins Best Actor at Asian Film Festival in Rome

Trần Anh Khoa was honored at the Asian Film Festival in Rome on June 24. 

When awarding him the coveted Best Actor prize for his leading role in Ròmthe judges praised Khoa's energetic, instinct-fueled performance. "Thanks to my parents, my family, also my brother - the director, the crew [...] be safe and have a great day," he said in an acceptance speech, pre-recorded in Canada, where he's studying film.

Ròm is the spiritual successor to Vietnamese filmmaker Trần Thanh Huy’s short film 16:30 in which the director's younger brother, Khoa, also starred as the lead. Khoa originally only filled in for the short film after the intended actor became too busy. During the early filming of RòmKhoa was still a high school student and would only shoot scenes after classes finished for the day. It required eight years of filming and development before it was completed, and after that Khoa enrolled in film school in Canada.

The movie previously received international attention when it won the top prize in the New Currents category at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in 2019. After a delay and some controversy regarding a failure to receive a distribution license, the film focusing on Saigon's seedy underbelly full of crime and desperation hit Vietnamese theaters last summer. The film was a quick success, going on to rake in more than VND60 billion at the box office. 

In our review, Saigoneerpraised the film: "Ròm's take-no-prisoners commitment to realism [...] is the most important quality contributing to its greatness and sets it apart from the current cinematic landscape where Saigon and its residents are often romanticized and sanitized in movies. To watch Ròm is to reckon with the reality that human beings are complex creatures occupying the grey region between good and bad and, when edged to the cliff, they would do anything to ensure survival no matter how heartless or even inhumane it is."

[Top image via Người đưa tin]