Tony Bui

Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Airlifted to safety with his father's family in the waning days of the South Vietnamese government, Tony Bui did not return to his homeland until he was 19, and his immediate reaction was to flee. "I'd never experienced ... Read more »
Born: 11/30/1972

Filmography

Writer (3)

Green Dragon 2002 (Movie)

(Story By)

Three Seasons 1999 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Three Seasons 1999 (Movie)

(From Story)
Director (2)

Three Seasons 1999 (Movie)

(Director)

Yellow Lotus 1994 (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (2)

Green Dragon 2002 (Movie)

(Producer)

Three Seasons 1999 (Movie)

(Producer)

Biography

Airlifted to safety with his father's family in the waning days of the South Vietnamese government, Tony Bui did not return to his homeland until he was 19, and his immediate reaction was to flee. "I'd never experienced heat like that in my life. And the humidity! There was no air conditioning." Yet, unbeknownst to him, he was embracing his birth country, and within an hour of landing in America, he wanted to go back. So began the filmmaker's love affair with Vietnam, which would see him return once or twice a year thereafter, for weeks or months at a time, to gain greater fluency in Vietnamese and try to understand why "all the things I hated--the heat, the dust, the noise, the motorcycles--became things I needed." His mother's family had stayed behind, and his uncle Don Duong, one of the country's best known actors, was in a highly advantageous position to help Bui hurdle the obstacles he would encounter filming in Vietnam. After shooting his thesis short "Yellow Lotus" (1995, starring Duong) there, he attended the 1996 Sundance Filmmakers and Screenwriters Lab, where he developed his "Three Seasons" (1999) screenplay, captivating Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente of the New York production company Open City Films. Undaunted by his insistence on shooting entirely in Vietnam, they came aboard and persuaded October Films to finance the project and Harvey Keitel to play the sole American role.

Relationships

Father
Bui's extended family (the paternal side), about 60 people with military connections that were about to prove dangerous, was airlifted to safety in 1975 just before South Vietnam fell in America, father became a conservative businessman who launched a small chain of video stores when Bui was starting high school, providing the future director with 50,000 movies he could see anytime

Sister
has one

Susie Bui

Mother
came from a family of Vietnamese artists when the South fell, mother's side of family stayed behind Bui's ability to shoot in Vietnam came about through an accidental meeting between his mother and the head of the Giai Phong Film Studio, one of Vietnam's two largest state-run film companies

Timothy Bui

Brother
born c. 1969 served as a producer on "Three Seasons" and also co-wrote the film's story

Don Duong

Uncle
Bui's mother's brother, with whom he stayed on his first trip back to Vietnam at age 19 starred in "Three Seasons"

EDUCATION

Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles, California
directed a student short while there

Milestones

2001

Co-produced brother Timothy's debut feature "Green Dragon"; screened at Sundance

1999

Feature debut as writer-director "Three Seasons"; also produced; executive produced by and starring Harvey Keitel; first American feature to be filmed in Vietnam since the war; selected as Vietnam's entry for the 1999 Best Foreign-Language Film Academy Aw

1995

Directed student short "Yellow Lotus", filmed in Vietnam and starring his uncle Don Duong, one of the country's most-esteemed actors; film was shown on the festival circuit (including at Sundance) and won several awards

1992

Returned to Vietnam for the first time to visit his maternal grandparents

1975

Airlifted out of Vietnam at the age of two; endured the refugee camp experience (three months in Fort Chafee, Arkansas) before relocating with his family to Northern California where they settled in the Silicon Valley community of Sunnyvale

Bonus Trivia

.

Bui and his brother Timothy have formed a production company, dubbed Rickshaw Filmworks. There is a proposed project in the works, written by the brothers, inspired by their experiences in the Fort Chafee, Arkansas refugee camp when they first arrived in the USA. If all goes as planned, Timothy will be making his directing debut at its helm.

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