Interview: Dužan Duong on new Czech-Vietnamese short film ‘Bo Hai’

By Ryan Keating-Lambert

‘Think like a Czech, speak like a Czech and act like a Czech’ are just some of the phrases one might think of when watching Bo Hai, the new short film by emerging young Czech-Vietnamese filmmaker Duc Viet ‘Dužan’ Duong.

Bo Hai is a thought-provoking insight into a generation of Vietnamese youth living in the Czech Republic. A generation, unlike their parents, who have been raised in two radically different cultures. The film focuses specifically on a father-son relationship and has already earned award nominations and positive reviews across the Czech film industry and festival circuit, including the Jihlava Documentary Film Festival last year, as well as FAMU fest – a student film festival run by the Prague based film school.

photo: Lukas Neasi
Actors Viet Anh Duong and Tomáš Lipský behind the scenes (Photo: Lukas Neasi)

There will be a special screening of Bo Hai on Thursday 1 March in the Prague Community Scout Institute, and the film is also available to download with English subtitles at

Check out the full interview below.

How did you originally get into film?

I actually didn’t care about film until I was 21. Out of nowhere, I bought a camera and started shooting myself dancing and then you know, moved to weddings etc. I then got into FAMU… and then got expelled from FAMU (laughs).

(Laughs) Nice. Tell me about these music and videos. They remind me a bit of the work of Spike Jonze. 

Thanks. Well, the interesting thing about me is that I don’t really get influenced by that much. It just happens. I don’t have a favourite director or anything like that.

That’s interesting, and does music influence your work?

Yes, in the early stages. My brother is a b-boy, so he’s into break-dancing. I also used to dance hip hop and other stuff like that. My first film was a dance video in Vietnam. I  just wanted to go there and shoot a cool music video but it just got bigger and bigger, so we decided to make it into a short film.

How did Bo Hai take shape?

I just felt I needed to do another project. This film is about my father whereas the other one was more about myself. I just had an urge to shoot something else.

How did it become such a big project?

Actually we started with a concept teaser, then we started crowd funding and managed to get about 70 000 CZK from Czech people and also about 70 000 CZK from the Vietnamese community. People really believed in it and they made it all happen.

That’s fantastic. I really enjoyed the film and I read that it’s also based on a true story, is that right?

Everything is true. The story isn’t that plot driven. It’s a father and son story. That was my purpose – to make a simple movie about our relationship. It’s just so humble – I was afraid of some of the reactions from big festivals like Jihlava. Most of my generation here, the Czech-Vietnamese generation, have seen themselves in the film. I was really glad that they understood.

Tell me a bit about the production process. You have some really nice shots there by the way.

Thank you. I collaborated with my friend from school. Adam Mach – he’s one of the most talented people in FAMU. He also made the short film Atlantis 2003 that was even in Cannes last year. He wasn’t just the cinematographer, but he also helped me a lot with the dramaturgy and the script. It was great to have him. If I didn’t, I probably would’ve killed myself!

Now your real father is actually in the film too. What was that like working with him?

It was tough sometimes. He’s not an actor but I think he was one of the best actually. He was so natural.

It’s been a long road, but what’s next?

Well at the moment I’m writing a feature. I’ve had two shorts now and I’m done with that. This next film won’t so much be about the relationship between Czech people and the Vietnamese community, it’ll be about the Vietnamese community itself.

Photos: Lukas Neasi


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