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Oscar-nominated director Tran Anh Hung: “My father’s storytelling was a great source of inspiration”

Tran Anh Hung, director The smell of green papaya (1993), experienced a long journey through the wilderness before returning to the spotlight The Passion of Dodin Buffan, It was released in theaters on November 8 and represents France in the Oscar race. He talks to us gently and candidly about his failures and the disappointment of French critics towards him.

I wouldn’t come here if…

…if my parents hadn’t met in rather Hitchcockian circumstances that made me want to tell stories. My father, a Vietnamese resettled in Laos, was a tailor in a very small town that the French army built from scratch to become a listening base. This city was called Seno, which means “southeast-northwest”.

My father made uniforms for the French army, but he had another passion, dancing. He regularly went to the neighboring village to participate in competitions, where he found partners for the occasion. One day he won a cup by dancing with a stranger. Trying to find out who it was, he finally found out which village he was in and went to see him. But this woman was married. As he wandered the streets in desperation, he came across another woman, a portrait of his date, whom he fell in love with. This very romantic story had a big impact on me and probably led me to cinema.

Was your mother Vietnamese too?

Yes. He came from a very poor family, he was illiterate and he helped my father in sewing. At the age of 9, after the death of his father, he studied with the master, whom he served as a craftsman.

He had a talent for telling stories. The people of the village gathered at the club to send him to the cinema, 7 kilometers away. He went there and back, rehearsing scenes, rehearsing actions, practicing walking like Gary Cooper or Henry Fonda, in order to perform all the roles in front of his audience. These names shook my childhood. My father’s storytelling ability was a great source of inspiration for me.

What are your memories of Laos?

We moved to the capital, Vientiane. I was outside a lot, my parents worked a lot. We lived not far from the Allianz Fran├žaise, a large, half-empty building. I liked going there, primarily because it had new toilets that we didn’t have at home, as well as a library and a movie club.

Source: Le Monde

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