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With or without Me

Original Title (If different): 
Trong Hay Ngoai Tay Em
Other languages or subtitles: 
Production country: 
Viet Nam
Running time (In minutes): 
Asian Films
Student film: 
Production year: 
September, 2011
Film Credits
About the Director: 

SWANN DUBUS (b.1977, France) studied literature and cinema at Paris III University and has been directing documentary films since 2000. Dubus is inspired by filmmakers such as Frederick Wiseman and Robert Bresson, and his earlier films, including “1970-1989”, “Lettre à L. et à elles toutes” and “L. Ville”, focus on uncovering aspects of human intimacy. Dubus has worked in Europe, Africa and Asia. He lives and works in Hanoi, with his partner Trang Phuong Thao.

In “With or Without Me” Dubus presents a fly-on-the-wall view of the lives of heroin addicts in Vietnam, one of the world’s last remaining Communist countries. Dubus and Thao spent almost a year finding their documentary subjects, Trung and Thi, and another six months following them. Dubus’s humor and talent for developing close relationships with his subjects allow for an intimate, affectionate and ironic portrayal of addiction as it is lived in Vietnam.

TRANG PHUONG THAO (b,1977, Vietnam) initially studied foreign trade and interpretation in Hanoi. In 2002 she moved to France to fulfill her ambition of becoming a professional filmmaker. She acquired her Masters in Documentary Directing at the Université de Poitiers, France in 2004.

Thao’s work examines the human dimensions of the grand themes in Vietnam’s rapidly changing society. Her first documentary, “Dream Workers”, which followed three rural women trying to find factory jobs in Hanoi’s Free Trade Zone, received the Yolande and Pierre Perrault Prize at the Cinema du Reel film festival in Paris in 2007. She now works with Swann as a co-director. In “With or Without Me” Thao presents the ordinary functioning of drug users in their daily lives as a counter-narrative to the exaggerated images that are normally portrayed in the media.

Film director: 
Swann DUBUS / TRAN Phuong Thao
Swann Dubus / TRAN Phuong Thao
Julie Béziau
Film photographer: 
Swann Dubus
TRAN Phuong Thao
Film synopsis: 
Thi and Chung live in the gorgeous, rice-terraced mountains of Vietnam’s far northwest. Like many young men in this region on the main heroin route from Laos to China, they’re addicts, and they have HIV. Thi wants to kick his habit. Chung just wants to die. “With or Without Me ” is an intimate, tragicomic portrayal of two guys strung out at the edge of the map in a Communist country struggling with drug use, and of the wives, family, doctors and friends trying to pull them back from the brink.
Budget Range: 
Between $100 000 and $10 000
Technical infos
Technical infos
Original Film Format: 
Format Ratio: 
Film Sound: 
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