Saturday, June 13, 2009

Angels with attitude

A new teen drama pushes the boundaries of traditional Vietnamese TV programming.

The main characters of Nhung thien than ao trang (The white-shirt angels), an upcoming TV series created by famed director Le Hoang aimed at teen audiences

After years of turning out blockbuster films like Gai nhay (Bar girls), and Nu tuong cuop (Banditti), director Le Hoang has decided to expand into a new realm, creating an edgy TV series aimed at teenagers.

Produced by Viet Film studio and the BHD Company, Nhung thien than ao trang (The white-shirt angels) is expected to create a stir amongst Vietnamese audiences.

The action-packed show revolves around the character of 17-year-old July Miu, a Vietnamese girl born and raised in Britain. Miu returns to Vietnam to attend her senior year of high school and captivates her classmates with her fearless attitude and bold approach to life.

In stark contrast to the academically focused manner in which Vietnamese schools are usually run, Miu turns hers into one that is fun and carefree. Students have open and engaging conversations with their teachers while challenging the conventional norms of socially conservative Vietnam. The characters still maintain an innocence, however, with a focus on problem-solving and daily issues facing today’s youth.

Nhung thien than ao trang began filming in April and is set to finish taping at the end of July. With fast-paced, witty dialog and a fun, youthful edge, Nhung thien than ao trang looks set to win over teen audiences, says Hoang.

Actress My Duyen (L) and model Phi Thanh Van pose for a publicity shot. Duyen plays a teacher while Van stars as a headmistress in the teen drama Nhung thien than ao trang (The white-shirt angels).

Local twelfth grader Le Anh Nhat plays the character of Miu. Nhat, who has a background in modeling, also starred in previous films such as Nhung giac mo hong (Rosy dreams), Bi mat cua Thuy (Thuy’s secrets), and the yet-to-be-released Thu Tuong (The President), also directed by Hoang.

The young up-and-coming actress says she was delighted to land the role of Miu.

July Miu is attractive and has a [modern attitude], although she can be a bit quirky and off-the-wall,” says Nhat. “I like the script for its novel ideas and fresh approach to teenagers.

I think the series will please many teenagers and satisfy their entertainment needs,” The Thao Van Hoa (Sport and Culture) newspaper quoted Nhat as saying.

Also starring in the series are other popular teen personalities like singers Nam Cuong and Do Tung Lam, and actresses Mai Phuong and My Dung (who goes by the nickname Midu).

Lam won the Ngoi sao tieng hat truyen hinh (Television Singing Star) contest in 2008 while Midu was the winner of the Hot Vietnamese Teen contest in 2007.

I hope the new faces will be a breath of fresh air for teen audiences,” said casting director Minh Thuan.

Actress My Duyen plays the school’s head teacher while Phi Thanh Van plays the head mistress. Hoang had previously cast Duyen, whose mother was a ballerina, in the film Gai nhay or Lo Lem he pho (Pavement Cinderella) as she is a well respected professional.

The choice of Van as the headmistress, however, was a riskier move for Hoang. With a reputation for stirring up controversy, the model has less experience in the world of acting, but Hoang says he had confidence she’d be up to the task.

Unlike my boisterous, outgoing reputation, I’m actually serious in everything I do,” says Van. “Hoang has known me since I was 20. He was the first director to give me a role. I often confide in him and he knows there’s another person inside me and wants to reveal that. He simply says, ‘I know you can do it.’

The production manager for Hoang’s current series is Meritorious Artist Ngoc Hiep, who plays the lead role in the Vietnamese version of “Ugly Betty.”

The crew of Nhung thien than ao trang is currently shooting the final scenes in the central town of Da Lat and the show is set to air in October this year.

Reported by Kim


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