Published May 06, 2008Calgarys Hai Tran has loved photography ever since he was a boy growing up in Vietnam. As a boat person in the 70s, Hai fled his homeland with his young family, three cameras and a suitcase of photographs. Eventually he opened a vintage camera store in Calgary and just six years ago embarked on a mission to promote 3-D photography. Hai built his own 3-D camera, resembling a big pair of binoculars, which he proudly shows off to camera connoisseurs and strangers alike.
Director Siu Ta, a Toronto actress best known for her roles in This Is Wonderland and Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, creates a charming portrait of a man impassioned by photographs. Hais family describes a man obsessed but also one possessing a hair-trigger temper that gets the worst of him. (Tas husband, John Tran, is also the films cinematographer and Hais son.)
What would have made for a colourful but benign profile documentary takes a deeper turn when Hais shop is forced to close down when the landlord announces new plans for the property. At 65, Hai retires against his wishes. His temper fades but also so does much of his passion.
Hais sadness connects with the audience and lends Daddy Tran some unexpected depth and pathos. Little wonder that Hot Docs audiences voted this one of their top ten favourite films. (Independent)