Toronto International Film Festival 2021
Short Cuts Programme 01
Diana Cam Van Nguyen
The complex relationship and painful history of a father and daughter become the basis for Diana Cam Van Nguyen’s uncommonly vivid, emotionally raw merger of form-bending animation and heart-rending memoir.
Hi Diana thank you for talking to The New Current, how are you held up during these very strange times?
Thank you for asking! I am fine actually. It’s getting back to normal here in Prague... so it feels like a normal life.
Has this time provided you with any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
No, I don’t think so. We were really lucky to make the film in time. Last summer we managed to shoot the live-action part and when the lockdown came, we were animating for 5 months. At that time I was just so glad that we have a job we can do and the lockdown wasn’t a problem for the animation part…
What does it mean for you to be screening Love, Dad in the Short Cuts Section at TIFF?
We have a world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival so that was already a big event for us! Now with the TIFF selection, I can be more sure about the film's quality. I am just happy that the film got to another big festival and the TIFF selection is a dream come true.
When did you rediscover these letters from your father and did you have any apprehensions about making a film that came from such a personal place?
I kept the letters from my dad from 2004-2005. During these years when I get older, I just forget that I was keeping them. I found them recently again and then the first idea of making this film came from. When you decide on such a personal story then you always have some apprehensions. My biggest fear was my dad's reaction of course.
Can you tell me a little bit about how Love, Dad came about?
Love, Dad is an animated documentary about losing connection with my father and me trying to win it back. In the past, my father and I were separated by prison bars, these days we are separated again, but emotionally this time. When I was 11 years old, he wrote to me letters from prison that were full of love. I grew up, our relationship changed and such acts of love seem to disappear. I am sorry for the distance between us. Now, 15 years later I am answering to dad's letters from prison, addressing his deeds that made our family break up at the end and trying to understand him.
"I try to find a “right” style for each film so in the end my short films always have different styles and visuals."
What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing Love, Dad to the screen?
There were a lot of challenges in the beginning I have to admit. One was a personal topic - I was dealing with the director role and protagonists role at the same time. The second challenge was the live-action shooting. And another challenge was the animation technique I chose because I didn’t have any experience with this technique before and we have to figure it out on our own. I am really happy that we managed to finish the film according to our imagination.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
No, I don’t think so. From my childhood, I was interested in drawing and painting, in general in visual arts but I didn’t have the ambition to become a director.
How much has your style and approach to your films changed since your debut short?
For style, I think it changed a lot I think. I don’t think that I have a specific visual style. I try to find a “right” style for each film so in the end my short films always have different styles and visuals.
On the other hand, I think that I still have the same approach. My goal is, to be honest with the emotion I put in these films. Trying to be authentic and honest for the audience.
Is there any advice you would offer someone thinking about getting filmmaking?
Choose a great crew member that you believe in and get along with. Then you will love the job of filmmaking.
And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from Love, Dad?
I hope that my film can bring some emotion to the audience. And for the ones who have some family issues that they can find courage in themselves to change something.