“Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy” is making history as the first Vietnamese science fiction fantasy feature film for children.
The sci-fi movie, which was written and directed by Ham Tran, follows 8-year-old Hung’s journey through space and life. The story begins with the death of Hung’s mother to illness and the loss of his close friend to a sudden move. In the midst of his loneliness, Hung encounters the extraterrestrial Maika, who crashes into his life through a meteor shower. With Maika’s entrance, the pair begin their adventure together defeating bullies, escaping aeronautics entrepreneurs and landlords, beating the bad guys with kimchi, and ultimately finding Maika’s way back home.
The experience of struggling with loss and taking the opportunity for healing is one that is not unfamiliar to Tran, as the film is his first after the passing of his mother. This experience is translated onto film as Maika begins Hung’s own process of healing.
When it comes to Vietnamese films catered to children, Tran explains that “Vietnamese kid films are not common because exhibitors have to date only focused their target on audience groups in their late teens to late 20s. They’ve yet to discover the power of children to convince their parents or siblings to take them out to see a movie.”
Inspired by a beloved 1978 Czechoslovakian TV show that was popular in Vietnam, Tran reveals that “the original Maika is a TV series that was made in the Czech Republic in 1978, but then found a huge following in Vietnam in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Children went crazy for it. … Parents named their children Maika!”
By bringing Maika back to life in his film, Tran states, “We wanted to make ‘Maika’ in Vietnam to introduce her to a new generation of kids in Vietnam.”
Echoing the sentiment, producer Jenni Trang Le relays, “Just as in the U.S., marketers have long focused on the older generation by bringing back our childhood heroes. BHD, our Vietnamese co-production house, also felt ‘Maika’ was a strong enough IP to warrant a reimagining for present-day Vietnam’s kids. Currently in Vietnam, we don’t have kid superheroes. ‘Maika’ is now here for them.”
When considering the impact of “Maika” for children, Le said, “The kids in Vietnam are eating her up! One of our friend’s 5-year-old kid is Vietnamese but now lives in Germany. She’s visiting Saigon and went to see ‘Maika’ twice. She told her mom she doesn’t want to go back to Germany because Maika lives in Vietnam.”
In response to the positive reactions to the film, Tran expresses his excitement. “So far our films have received nothing but positive reviews from critics in Vietnam and in the U.S. We just found out that we have a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes!” he states.
“Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy” has a run time of 105 minutes and features an all-Vietnamese cast, including Phu Truong Lai, Diep Anh Chu, Tin Tin, Ngoc Tuong and Kim Nha. Producers include Jenni Trang Le, Duy Ho, Anderson Le and Bao Nguyen.
Audiences can watch the film in theaters starting on June 3.
Featured Image via Well Go USA Entertainment