Documentary about Hanoi: Special gift from Former French ambassador

The documentary which former French ambassador to Vietnam Jean Noel Poirier himself participated in making is the special “gift” that he presented to this thousand-year old city.

The documentary which former French ambassador to Vietnam Jean Noel Poirier himself participated in making is the special “gift” that he presented to this thousand-year old city.

Documentary about Hanoi: Special gift from Former French ambassador

Former French ambassador to Vietnam Jean Noel Poirier.

In Hanoia - the Heritage House on Hang Dao street, the two guests, who have in common a special love for this city, photographer Nguyen Huu Bao, the author of the photo diary “Beloved Hanoi”, and the former French ambassador Jean Noel Poirier who worked for more than a decade in Vietnam, share d stories about the history and people of Hanoi.

With the experience of a diplomat who had more than 10 years living and working in Vietnam, Mr. Poirier considers Hanoi his second home.

Reflecting on the time when he first started taking up the new position, Poirer narrated his story in Vietnamese: “When I first started taking up the ambassador position in August 2012, I instantly had a familiar feeling with this place, as if I had been living here before. Maybe it’s because in Hanoi, the reminiscence of French architecture still remain, especially in the old Quarter. Actually the first time I came here was for a diplomatic meeting with former Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach in 1989. The city gave me a waim feeling, but I was bored as there was almost no nightlife at that time. But by the time I came back, the city had become very dynamic and vibrant. Young people looked very cheerful and they always smiled with positive thoughts”.

Documentary about Hanoi: Special gift from Former French ambassador

A scene in the film.

The former ambassador said he was very happy to have had a chance able to walk on the streets of Hanoi and to admire the hustle lifestyle here. "Hanoians had a very unique lifestyle, as if every moment of life happens on the streets: they live, eat food, raise children and even do their business on the pavement. Let the tourists walk around the city and observe lives on the pavements, they will know a lot about the characteristics, customs and habits of Vietnamese people ", the former ambassador shared in Vietnamese.

The special thing about Hanoi is that it could maintain the historical architectural style, and unique architectural style. Apart from the combination between French and Vietnamese architecture, there is also a mixture of countryside and urban aspects. Giving his special attention to old apartment complexes, Poirer said: “I think if those Russian architects ever come back to these complexes, they will feel like this was Mars because the city has changed a lot from their initial designs.”. To him, the “tiger cage” (steel casing that residents make to extend their living space) in Thanh Cong and Giang Vo apartment complexes near Nui Truc is an evidence of the accommodating lifestyle of Hanoians. Even though he understands that these condominiums will gradually disappear from future urban planning, he still regards the preservation of the old complexes is valuable for the history of Hanoi.

In a space so typical of Hanoi ancient city, while admiring the twenty beautiful photos of the capital and listening to the song “Is that you Hanoi’s autumn?” of the famous song-writer Nguyen Huu Bao, the guests were also invited to watch the trailer of the documentary “Mon Hanoi” which had recently been released by Poirier.

“Many ambassadors, at the end of their terms, chose to write memor. However, “I was too lazy, so I decided to make a documentary instead”, Poirier humorously shared about the documentary that he co-produced with his brother, the movie producer Henri Louis Poirier.

In the trailer of the documentary, Hanoi looks both familiar and novel with its distinctive French architectural works, such as Long Bien Bridge and the Opera House. With the simple, honest viewing angles and unfamiliar colors, the documentary also captures the scenes of the labour class, such as a barber, motorbike driver, as well as a woman wearing conical hat on a bicycle transporting many brooms made from chicken feather and grass. There are also scenes of Hanoi’s Pho in the documentary. “Pho is a very important part in the life of Hanoians. There is a short part in the documentary that compares the French to the Vietnamese eating habits and depicts the two different ways of thinking about cuisine”, he said.

According to the former ambassador Poirier, the documentary was not meant for foreigners wishing to discover Hanoi. First of all, the purpose of the documentary was to introduce to Hanoians the images of their city as seen from his point of view. “I have tried to capture the soul of Hanoi. Maybe I have caught sight of some hidden beauties of the city, which are ignored and taken for granted by Hanoians themselves…and so the documentary is my gift to Hanoi”, he said.

The documentary is expected to be shown on Vietnam Television on the Hanoi’s Liberation Day (October 10th). Mr. Jean Noel Poirier spent 10 years in Vietnam, in which he worked for one term as a Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City and another term as the French ambassador in Hanoi (2012 - 2016). In May, the Government of Vietnam awarded him with the Friendship Medal for his contributions to strengthening the relationship between the two countries./.



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