Daddy Tran: A Life In 3-D Siu Ta

Daddy Tran: A Life In 3-D Siu Ta
Calgary’s 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. Hai’s family describes a man obsessed but also one possessing a hair-trigger temper that gets the worst of him. (Ta’s husband, John Tran, is also the film’s cinematographer and Hai’s son.)

What would have made for a colourful but benign profile documentary takes a deeper turn when Hai’s 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.

Hai’s 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)