A Czech short film in the heart of a Vietnamese family in the running for the Oscars

Emigrated to the Czech Republic, the director’s Vietnamese father was imprisoned a little over fifteen years ago.

Diana Cam Van Nguyen | Photo: Tereza Kunderová, ČRo

Diana Cam Van Nguyen : “He had his own brand of tobacco and around 2004 he did not apply the appropriate tax. But that year it was still kind of like the 90s in the Czech Republic and there was a legal vacuum in Czech law actually, so it was sort of possible to do that. But he was in jail for a year. Then they let him out because they didn’t have enough evidence. “

The 12-minute film is made up of letters and envelopes that the director exchanged with her father.

“It’s the only thing that’s really real and authentic in the movie, I mean visually. I knew I wanted to use these letters. So yes, they are authentic and they are in Czech. “

'Love, Dad' | Photo: MIYU Distribution

“I am the second generation. I am Vietnamese, I can speak Vietnamese, but I cannot write or read it. That’s why my father had to write to me in Czech. He can speak Czech, but he also learned a lot in prison. It’s good that he was able to communicate with me that way. “

The film won the Grand Jury Prize at AFI Fest, which is an Oscar qualifier festival in the short films category:

'Love, Dad' | Photo: MIYU Distribution

“That means I’m on the long list, which adds up to around 80 to 90 shorts every year. From that long list, there will be a short list of 15 or 20 movies. So now it’s like we have a chance, but it doesn’t mean much yet [rires]. “

The film has worked very well so far. It has been presented in more than twenty international festivals and has won numerous awards:

“I think the technique is really special. Movies using this technique are rare – or at least I haven’t seen anything like it. So maybe that’s it. Also, the technique really works with the subject. I think it’s a good combination. “

'Love, Dad' | Photo: MIYU Distribution

“But there have been a lot of successful animated short films in recent years. And I’m not a beginner if I can put it that way, because my previous film was also somewhat successful. Not that much, but it’s still easier for me to enter these festivals, because some people already know me. “

“Also, we have professional distribution now. We have a French distribution, which is new, with the Miyu company. “

“Even though it is very personal and focuses on Czech and Vietnamese cultures, the whole world can somehow understand this story, because there are more minority issues all over the world. “

'Love, Dad' | Photo: MIYU Distribution

What was the reaction of the director’s father after seeing this film? Response from Diana Cam Van Nguyen:

“Yes, my father saw it. I knew from the start that he had to see it before everyone else, before there were screenings. I was really prepared for it, but over the course of the year when we started production, I got more and more nervous and I paid more and more attention to his feelings. Sometimes my decisions were a little hard to make. “

'Love, Dad' | Photo: MIYU Distribution

“I showed him the movie when we finished it. It was a little strange because he asked me more practical things about the film, not about the subject. He asked how much the film had cost, where I had found the actors… I had to push him, ask him the more personal question of knowing if it didn’t bother him that I made public such a personal subject about our family. He was okay with it. He told me that from my perspective I was telling the truth, which was actually more than I expected. But I don’t think we’ll ever come back to this subject again. I’m very happy he knows my feelings, and that’s good enough for me. “

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A Czech short film in the heart of a Vietnamese family in the running for the Oscars