SHOW DON’T TELL – Empowering young filmmakers in Viet Nam

Ho Chi Minh City: Informative, inspiring and engaging were what described SHOW DON’T TELL – a scriptwriting workshop organised by UNESCO in collaboration with Hoa Sen University for aspiring young screenwriters.

SHOW DON’T TELL draws inspiration from the golden rule in scriptwriting, “description without telling”, which indicates that the role of the writer is to provide the basic story – but to leave interpretation to the viewer’s imagination.


Inspiring facilitator and speakers

Kay Nguyen,  whose impressive work has been presented repeatedly at the Oscars: The tailor (2019), Furie (2020) and Blue Eyes (2021), was the main facilitator for the workshop. Carefully considering every single application, she demonstrated her enthusiasm for empowering young filmmakers.

This workshop is packed with content and the curriculum carefully tailored to the selected participants. With such a group of passionate trainees, this will be a workshop in which participants learn from and connect to each other to foster a creative community that goes well beyond the training

Writer/Director/Producer Kay Nguyen, Lead Facilitator for the SHOW DON’T TELL workshop

Other successful professional filmmakers and directors also shared their advice and thoughts. One of them was Victor Vu, a talented director of Vietnamese cinema, the owner of many highly-rated films such as Scandal (2012), Vengeful Heart (2014), Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass (2015), Dreamy Eyes (2019) and The Guardian (2020). He not only shared practical knowledge such as idea generation, topics selection, basic filmmaking process but also sought to motivate participants, telling them that despite the challenges in entertainment film industry, if we have passion, we must pursue it to the end.

The workshop also welcomed Ms. Trinh Thi Thanh Tam, Director of TFILM Entertainment Company and producer of many famous Vietnamese films, such as Scandal 2 (2014), Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass (2015), My Friend is the Boss (2017), and The Guardian (2020). She provided detailed insight into the production and distribution processes, giving participants a better understanding of the environment they seek to enter.

Engaging workshop

For the forty participants carefully selected from the over two hundred applicants, and representing different backgrounds, gender and ages but united with a common passion, the sessions provided invaluable insight into the world of film-making.


I came here because I thought I would gain more knowledge about the script. The reality is I got much more than that. The biggest is the connection with other friends who shared very interesting motivation and stories


I got more tips to help me understand more about this film industry. Fourty trainees were 40 personalities. Some were reserved at first but through teamwork and Ms. Kay’s facilitation, they got very excited, especially inspired that we would have an opportunity to get back to work together in the future. I also find that UNESCO has a very good vision for the Vietnamese film industry


SHOW DON’T TELL is implemented by UNESCO under the framework of the project “E-MOTIONS – Mobilising film professionals for regional cooperation”. With generous financial support from the Government of Japan, the initiative seeks to empower young Vietnamese filmmakers and encourage connections between them and their peers in Southeast Asia.

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