The five-day Hanoi Film Festival begins today…well, tonight for me. My Hue-to-Hanoi flight leaves this morning around 8:30 am, but I’ll need to settle down and check in and file a bit before opening-night festivities. I’ll be working it for four days straight and then leaving Hanoi for Tokyo around midnight on Wednesday, 11.28. And I definitely intend to rent a scooter and buzz around while wearing a surgical mask. And I’m looking forward to whatever occurs and hoping to see something striking or even startling.

Here are the 14 films in competition. Two of the non-regional films — A Separation and We Need To Talk About Kevin — are last year’s news, but it should be interesting to gauge reactions to Michael Haneke‘s Amour, which I’ve now seen three times. The festival is handing out cash prizes to regional filmmakers. There’s a trip to Ha Long Bay planned for Tuesday.

Sonja Heinen, Berlinale co-production market and a project manager of the World Cinema Fund, is running or officiating over the Hanoi film campus, which is some kind of advisory-instructional program. I don’t know her but she’s German and my maternal grandfather was of German ancestry and here we are in Hanoi with bombs bursting and bullets whizzing past our heads.

Baby, it’s dark outside at 5:20 am. Actually it’s now 5:40 am. Time flies when you’re filing.