Forgetting Vietnam

One of the myths surrounding the creation of Vietnam involves a fight between two dragons whose intertwined bodies fell into the South China Sea and formed Vietnam’s curving S-shaped coastline. Influential feminist theorist and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha’s lyrical film essay commemorating the 40th anniversary of the end of the war draws inspiration from ancient legend and from water as a force evoked in every aspect of Vietnamese culture. Minh-ha’s classic Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989) used no original footage shot in the country; in Forgetting Vietnam images of contemporary life unfold as a dialogue between land and water—the elements that form the term "country." Fragments of text and song evoke the echoes and traces of a trauma of international proportions. The encounter between the ancient as related to the solid earth, and the new as related to the liquid changes in a time of rapid globalization, creates a third space of historical and cultural re-memory—what local inhabitants, immigrants and veterans remember of yesterday’s stories to comment on today’s events.
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Heaven’s Crossroad

HEAVEN'S CROSSROAD traces an impressionistic journey through Vietnam exploring the nuances and complexities of “looking” cross-culturally. Structured in a series of observational yet stylized vignettes, this visually driven experimental documentary investigates shifting relationships of voyeurism and intimacy, while linking the observer with the observed. Takesue’s mesmerizing cinematography captures sweeping country landscapes and cities in motion, provoking questions about what it means to truly see another culture. HEAVEN'S CROSSROAD charts a singular journey yet it also explores common desires which surface through travel: the desire to be transported to another place; to communicate beyond language; the desire to arrest time and repossess a moment, a glance, a feeling, an encounter—transforming mundane events into moments of surprising beauty and an utterly new way of seeing.
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As the Mirror Burns

Most representations of the Vietnam War show women as innocent by-standers who sometimes became caught up in the conflict but who were otherwise uninvolved. AS THE MIRROR BURNS is an amazing redressing of this misconception. It is estimated that over 70% of the guerrilla forces in the war were women who were not victims but who were active participants in the struggle against foreign domination. AS THE MIRROR BURNS shows how the war still shapes life for the women of Vietnam as they continue their work in the fields and factories, on the roads and in the homes, to restore peace to their land. Study guide available.
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Surname Viet Given Name Nam

Of marriage and loyalty: “Daughter, she obeys her father/ Wife, she obeys her husband/ Widow, she obeys her son.” Vietnamese-born Trinh T. Minh-ha’s profoundly personal documentary explores the role of Vietnamese women historically and in contemporary society. Using dance, printed texts, folk poetry and the words and experiences of Vietnamese women in Vietnam—from both North and South—and the United States, Trinh’s film challenges official culture with the voices of women. A theoretically and formally complex work, SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM explores the difficulty of translation, and themes of dislocation and exile, critiquing both traditional society and life since the war.
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