For 13 minutes, you are heart-wrenchingly moved in Diana Cam Van Nguyen’s Love, Dad. Told through voiceover and paper animation, we are struck by how affecting her film is, as if we are seeing a form of therapy bared before us on screen.
Director: Diana Cam Van Nguyen
Diana rediscovers letters her dad used to write her from prison. That love seems to be gone now. She decides to write back in the hope of finding the connection again. She puts what could not be said in writing: blaming him for the family’s break-up but also trying to understand.
Love, Dad, is a real piece of quality filmmaking. The blending of paper-cut animation, photos and filming of actors is on par with anything you will see this year. The fact that this is as personal a piece as they come is only a bonus to proceedings. In fact, from what I can see, I am not sure if I have seen half of the techniques utilised within the film before, which is some feat.
While the technical achievements need to be celebrated, they really should, by the way. The actual story and reason for the documentary’s existence is the most important thing here in Love, Dad. Losing a father, not from death, but because he fled to carry on the family name, must be a heartbreaking experience for any child. To have that love there for you and for it to cruelly be taken away due to no fault of yours or your mothers is, in truth, blood boiling. How does one recover from that type of feeling of neglect from a parent?
Through her own letters, Diana puts into words how she feels about her abandonment, she is right not pleased, and while she knows deep down that her father loves her and most likely regrets what has happened, he cannot change the fact that it did happen. That his own pride got the best of him, so Love, Dad becomes meditative in that regard, a method to get all of those raw feelings that have been bumbling up inside of Diana out of her system. Not for her father’s sake, but for herself; she needs to free herself of what has happened in her life and make sure that her father knows what it did to her.
There is great beauty in something as emotionally complex as this, and you can’t help but be compelled as Diana spreads out everything throughout the film’s runtime. Love, Dad is as innovative a documentary as I can remember and one that stays with you.
The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 18th year August 11-20, 2022. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, a regular on the MovieMaker Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events.
The most recent edition of HollyShorts had six selections nominated for Academy Awards this year with two wins for Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed’s The Long Goodbye and Ben Proudfoot’s Queen of Basketball.
HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, and stream via Bitpix TV, with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on August 20, 2022.
For tickets to the festival please click here.
For more of our reviews of the festival, please check out below:
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