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Directed by: Diana Cam Van Nguyen
Country: Czech Republic & Slovakia
Synopsis: A woman rediscovers letters her father wrote to her from prison. She then decides to write to him, putting on paper what couldn't be said.
What was the inspiration for the film?
The film's inspiration are the real letters I kept from my dad from 2004-2005. I just forgot that I was keeping them. I found them recently again and that's when then the idea of making this film came from. When I was 11 years old, my dad wrote letters to me from prison that were full of love. I grew up, our relationship changed and such acts of love seem to disappear. I had to create a graduation film for college so I had to do a new film. I don't think that I would do this film if I didn't have to do the graduation film. But I am glad that this task pushed me to do the film.
This is a very personal project for you. How do you come to grips with presenting the intimate in a public way? Some film makers might shy away from that.
Yes, I agree it's a very personal film and I was dealing with the director role and protagonist's role at the same time. From the beginning, I knew that my dad would watch the film as a first spectator and I was nervous about it more when the initial screening date came closer. I was not nervous about sharing this personal story with the world .I was just afraid that maybe for somebody I would look like a spoiled child. Complaining about the parents is a really easy thing to do and everybody can do it. Now when I am watching the film, I have some kind of distance from it. I watched it like it was not my own story.
How did you arrive at the story-telling technique used in the film?
I consider myself a director and animator without a signature artistic style. I adapt the art to every film, according to its theme. I chose a paper collage for Love, Dad because the central topic is letters. I wanted to work with real letters that my dad sent me from prison and thus preserve the authenticity. The combination of paper collage with cut-out figures developed gradually. The intention was to work with the layers of papers that would evoke layers of memories from the past - that is how these collages begin. On the top of these collages we use replacing animation, stop motion animation and live-action.
Love, Dad is described as experimental. What's your definition of an experimental film? And how do you decide what direction to experiment in?
Honestly, I don't think that our film is experimental in storytelling at all. For me the experimental part is mostly because of a mix of all the animation techniques you can find in the film - from collage animation, cut-out, replacing, stop motion, rotoscoping of live-action. But the rest of the film is a pretty straight-forward narrative I would say. I imagine experimental films much more as conceptual, that have some strong element as visual or sound.
What would you like audiences to take away from the film?
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. My goal is to be honest with the emotion I put in the film and to be authentic and honest for the audience.