RICH & VIBRANT

Activities held by the Spanish Embassy have brought a splash of color to Vietnam.

By Le Diem on September 05,2018 03:08 PM

RICH & VIBRANT

Photos: Embassy of Spain

With a range of colorful activities, the Embassy expects to bring Spanish culture, which is not popular as yet in Vietnam, closer to its people.

Those who attended the Hue Festival this year will never forget the beautiful performance by Spanish guitarist Daniel Casares. His enchanting flamenco brought a typical Spanish tone to the event, touching many Vietnamese. It was a great chance for them to see a live performance by one of Spain’s most versatile and inquisitive musicians of typical Spanish music loved by many Vietnamese but only seen on video clips. More Spanish color has been added to the country thanks to the diverse activities organized by the Embassy of Spain in Vietnam.

Later in Hanoi, Daniel also impressed the audience at Europe Village, a cultural and entertainment event showcasing the richness of European culture, from the arts to cuisine and lifestyle, and held for the first time in Vietnam. Called Picassares, his performance illuminated the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, who like Daniel was a native of the southern city of Málaga, and brought to the stage the sunshine and dark blue sea of the Mediterranean in his magic Spanish flamenco. He started performing at the age of eleven and at 16 was the youngest guitarist ever to win Spain’s prestigious flamenco guitar award: Bordón Minero de la Unión.

Daniel is one of many flamenco artists invited by the Embassy to perform at different events in Vietnam. But flamenco is not the only thing about Spain the Embassy wants to introduce to Vietnamese, according to Ms. Mencía Manso de Zúñiga, First Secretary and Counsellor of Culture.

In cooperating with the Vietnam National Academy of Music for some years, the Embassy has held exchange programs sending Spanish conductors to Vietnam to perform with Vietnamese orchestras and Vietnamese students to Spain to study.

Famous Spanish conductors such as David Gomez and Unai Urrecho have visited Vietnam many times, not only to perform but also to share their profession by teaching. They will return at the end of this year for concerts in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City organized by the Embassy. “Together with bringing Spanish culture to Vietnam, it builds connections and fosters ties between Spanish and Vietnamese orchestras,” Ms. Manso de Zúñiga told The Guide. “It also helps strengthen the capacity of Vietnamese orchestras, who still need support.”

RICH & VIBRANT

In addition to music, Spanish fashion has been introduced to Vietnam. Also at Europe Village, in Spain’s corner, Chula Fashion, founded by Spanish citizens living in Vietnam, revealed the creative potential of a fusion of Spanish and Vietnamese cultures in a fashion show in which art and fashion came together on stage. Chula has also attended fashion shows at the Citadel of Hue, the Grand Canyon, Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Trajano’s Market in Rome, the Seine River in Paris, the One World Trade Center in New York City, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. It is also present in three countries, with four outlets in Vietnam, one in Thailand, and one in Spain.

The Embassy has also brought Spanish cinema to Vietnamese filmgoers. Last year, the first Spanish Film Festival took place in the country, in Hanoi, as a part of activities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Spain and Vietnam. The festival will go to Ho Chi Minh City, central Da Nang city, and possibly nearby Hoi An ancient town in October, as the Embassy looks to broaden its activities in other places around Vietnam.

RICH & VIBRANT

The festival will present the latest Spanish movies, including a selection of comedies, dramas and thrillers that express the creative zest of a country that ranks fourth in Europe and eighth in the world in terms of cinematic productions. Latest movies were selected instead of a classic or two, as the Embassy wished to present films unlikely to be found on the internet to a Vietnamese audience, according to Ms. Manso de Zúñiga.

The highlight will be the world premiere of “Thi Mai, a rumbo Vietnam”, the first Spanish feature to be shot in Vietnam. While “Thi Mai” is a popular Vietnamese name and also the name of one of the film’s characters, “rumbo” in Spanish means “of course” but in this case its meaning is closer to “travel”. The film is a classic tale of East-meets-West, with a hilarious Spanish-Vietnamese twist and a star-studded cast from the two countries. Typical scenes in Vietnam, such as motorbikes in traffic, pagodas, fields, Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi, magnificent limestone mountains at Ha Long Bay, and the smiles of Vietnamese people are on show in the movie.

“Thi Mai” received a warm reception when it was screened at cinemas in Spain last year, thanks to the main actor and actress being among the most popular in Spain, according to Ms. Manso de Zúñiga. The number of Spanish tourists to Vietnam has increased by 10 per cent this year so far; in no small part due to the effect of the movie.

Besides screening five films, the festival will include a roundtable discussion between filmmakers from the two countries and other activities to strengthen ties with the industry in Vietnam and explore opportunities for future cooperation.

Along with art, Spanish language and education are also being promoted in Vietnam. On September 29, the Embassy will join in the European Day of Languages and have a room for an exhibition of Spanish language in the world and short Spanish lessons for everyone. The Embassy will also participate in the Study in Europe Fair on September 21 in Hanoi, to talk about the opportunity for Vietnamese to study in Spain.

The Embassy also cooperates with Hanoi University and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities to send native-speaking lecturers to teach at their Spanish departments. It also works with Cervantes in Hanoi, an NGO promoting the Spanish language and culture in many countries, in providing Spanish classes for Vietnamese who wish to study the language. They have an exam similar to IELTS for English, with a certificate recognized around the world. More and more Vietnamese students have attended these classes in recent years, according to Ms. Manso de Zúñiga. Other cultural activities being organized are workshops on Spanish history, literature, language, and architecture, as well as dance, music, and theatre.

People can also practice their Spanish by joining the activities of Hola Hanoi, a group for the Spanish-speaking community in the capital. Together with meet-ups for conversations, it also organizes Spanish lessons, including for kids, while a major annual event showcasing Latin dancing and cuisine usually takes place at the Melia, a Spanish hotel in Hanoi.

Another major annual event for Spanish expats in Vietnam is National Day, October 12, where many gather together at the Embassy to meet up and enjoy Spanish food, flamenco, and Latin dance.

For more Spanish spirit in Vietnam, last year the Embassy also cooperated with La Liga, the Spanish football league, to arrange a screening of “El Classico”, the football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, at Hoa Lu Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, including an appearance by Christian Karembeu, a former Real Madrid player. The passion of the fans set the stadium on fire.

More Spanish food events are planned next year, giving people the chance to try one of the world’s most savory cuisines.

With a range of colorful activities, the Embassy expects to bring Spanish culture, which is not popular as yet in Vietnam, closer to its people, according to Ms. Manso de Zúñiga. More importantly, these also build long-lasting connections between the two countries and support Vietnam by contributing Spain’s part to cultural events to make them more diverse and attractive. “More opportunities have also opened up for both sides beyond this cultural exchange,” she said. 

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