Oscars: Vietnam Submits 'Jackpot' for Foreign-Language Category

Jackpot Still - H 2015

The film is based on an inspiring true story and directed by Dustin Nguyen, one of the former child stars of the original '21 Jump Street.'

Vietnam has picked Jackpot (Trung So), an uplifting comedy-drama from Vietnamese-American director Dustin Nguyen, as its contender for this year’s foreign language Academy Award.

The film stars Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc, Chi Tai and Nguyen. Nguyen is best known in the U.S. as one of the former child stars of the original 21 Jump Street.

Jackpot is based on the real-life story of a poor, southern Vietnamese lottery ticket seller named Lanh. One day in 2011, Lanh made a casual verbal agreement to sell some tickets to a deliveryman who promised to pay and pick them up later. Lanh later learned that one of the tickets she had set aside for the driver, which he hadn't yet paid for, had won $300,000. Instead of cashing it in herself, she tracked down the unknowing driver to inform him of his good fortune and hand over the winner. 

"This event was in the local news and drew many reactions," Nguyen tells THR. "Some praised her for her honesty; some said she was stupid and should have kept it for herself."

"I was very touched by the young lady's honesty," he adds. "For me, this movie asks the questions: Is there true goodness in society any more? In a society of instant gratification and consumerism, can one live simply and happily? It's a modern day fable, set in a light comedic tone."

The film was released in Vietnam last February during the Lunar New Year holiday, the most popular movie-going period in the country. 

"I'm currently planning a 'sequel' to Jackpot, exploring the same theme in a different story — also based on a real event," Nguyen says. 

Vietnam has submitted films to the Oscars Foreign Language committee 11 times since 1993. The country has been nominated just once, for Tran Anh Hung's The Scent of Green Papaya in 1993. 

Watch the trailer for Jackpot below.