Daddy Tran: A Life in 3-D

Daddy Tran: A Life in 3-D

Daddy Tran: A Life in 3-D (2008, Director: Sia Tu): At first glance, this appears to be a film about an artist who has a passion for 3-D photography. Unfortunately this film is more about Hai “Daddy” Tran’s lifelong obsession with photography and its impact on his family.

Tran is an interesting subject for a film. He’s charismatic, passionate about photography and he runs a vintage camera store in an industry that is dominated by digital cameras. He loves to collect things and not just a few — thousands of cameras and lenses, jewelry, lights, lawn ornaments. Every door inside his house has multiple locks. It takes four keys just to get inside his house!

I found Hai Tran to be more a lovable eccentric than a true artist or photographer. I was hoping this film would be a little more along the lines of What Remains (2005) or Manufactured Landscapes (2006). Tran appears to be more of a holiday snapper than a photographer. I guess this is why the film focuses more on his obsessions and character rather than his photography.

Daddy Tran: A Life in 3-D is an average documentary film for me. The production values could have been stronger and I found that the same photos were being used repeatedly in different parts of the film.

I might have enjoyed the film a little more if:

  • the projectionist didn’t stop the film 3 minutes in because it was being shown in the wrong aspect ratio
  • the film didn’t stop 10 minutes later because it was missing the subtitles
  • director Siu Ta brought the correct version of the film and checked it before the screening

Siu Ta wanted to cancel the screening and reschedule it for a later date! Thankfully an audience member persuaded her to just show the film. She used a microphone and translated parts of the film while it played.

Watching this film was probably the most unique experience I’ve had at Hot Docs. What made all of these glitches ironic was that it screened with Behind the Glass (review) — a film about projectionists and their importance in the presentation of a film.


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