An Interview with Director Ky Nam Le Duc

Updated: Jun 6

Ky’s film The Greatest Country in the World which won the 2020 Reelworld Film Festival Audience Choice Award will hit theatres in Quebec this Friday, September 3rd, 2021. Click here to see showtimes.

When did your director's journey begin?

I grew up in a Vietnamese household and didn’t learn French until I was 5 years old. What I watched at home with my grandma were the typical Chinese (inc. wuxia) shows, dubbed in Vietnamese. When we would rent mainstream films with my dad, they would typically be dubbed in French (my father is a Hollywood sci-fiction fan) as his English wasn’t sufficient. And so, I think I only learned there were other types of movies when I was a teenager and rented by pure randomness a subtitled Wong Kar-Wai film: Chunking Express. It truly blew my mind. Subsequently, I watched late at night a movie from Robert Morin: Yes Sir Madame and it was a second revelation. Until that point, I did not know movies could be that intimate, that important because rooted in a specific society/culture (as opposed to the bland American settings) and it truly resonated with me. My own (Asian) family wasn’t very vested in culture (of course) so I began that journey to film alone, watching Antonioni movies alone in my room in the suburbs. I didn’t even think about enrolling in film school at that age, it just became something I was really interested in, but I think that’s how most directors start their journey into the brother (and sister) hood of film-making.

I was rejected from every film school when I did decide to apply, as I only had a general science formation. I remember my university applications were in math, physics, and film. But I then did a year in a small 15 credits screenwriting program, where I shot a funny black and white short about speed dating. Fortunately, that got me into all the schools the year after. Otherwise, I guess I would have ended up working for a Canadian bank (lol), I would have been wealthier but probably not happier.

When you won the Audience Choice Award at the Reelworld Film Festival, what did that mean to you?