Producers of The Third Wife decided Tuesday to stop screening the acclaimed film, concerned about impacts on its leading actress.
Under public pressure, the production company, Ba Sac Cau Vong, has filed a request with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for permission to stop showing the film.
It stopped being screened on Tuesday, May 21, said a representative of CGV, the biggest cinema complex network in the country.
While it won several international awards, the film, The Third Wife, Vo Ba in Vietnamese, sparked controversy over the age of its lead actress Nguyen Phuong Tra My while shooting sexually intimate scenes.
Tra My was 13 years old. In the film, Tra My, born in 2004, plays the role of the third wife in an affluent family. She acts in intimate scenes with her husband as well as the second wife, played by actress Mai Thu Huong aka Maya.
They do not want the controversy to blow up further and affect the family and life of actress Tra My, the producers said.
Directed by Nguyen Phuong Anh, the film was released in Vietnam on May 17 with a C18 rating, which means it is not for viewers under 18.
Earlier, on Monday, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism requested the Cinema Department to review the licensing of the film.
The producers emphasized that they violated no law in producing and distributing the film. Actress Tra My was represented by her mother in signing a contract with the company. The crew took every measure to protect Tra My while filming sensitive scenes. During the filming of intimate scenes, only female staff, including the film director, vice-director and camerawoman, stayed on the set. All the scenes were filmed under supervision of the actress’ mother.
The actress was neither harassed nor her body exposed on set, said producer Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, adding that the script was approved by the Cinema Department before shooting began.
The Third Wife was inspired by a true story from the director’s own family. Set in 19th century Vietnam, it tells the story of 14-year-old May (Tra My) who becomes the third wife of a wealthy landowner. Little does she know that her hidden desires will take her by surprise and force her to make a choice between living in safety and being free.
The film has won several prizes at international festivals including the NETPAC Award at the Toronto International Film Festival (Canada), TVE-Another Look awardat the San Sebastian Film Festival (Spain) and Best Film award at the Kolkata International Film Festival (India).
The film was released in U.S. cinemas on May 15 and is set to be shown in 27 other markets. Its release in foreign countries will take place as planned, producers said.