Thursday, November 12, 2009

Payap Reel schedule

At Payap Reel on Monday, November 16 at 5 pm

The Film Series Payap Reel is a community project which screens films/documentaries once a month on regional issues, social awareness, and international topics. Viewings are free and open to the public. At Payap University in the Pentecost Bldg, Room 419, from 5 pm until 6:30. For further information, contact Jessica Loh at


At Payap Reel on Monday, November 16Song of the Stork / Vũ khúc con cò / Vu khuc con co (2001) by Jonathan Foo and Phan Quang Binh Nguyen – 111 mins – Vietnam/ Singapore, Drama –Song of the Stork (with English subtitles) is the first Vietnam-produced movie about the "American War" that focuses on the theme of reconciliation. The film follows the lives of five young recruits from the North who went South to fight. It also includes conversations between an American veteran of the war and a Vietnamese combat film maker. Some of his actual war footage is used in the movie. The producer and director belong to a new generation of post-war Vietnamese film artists who are less constrained by either the ideals of socialism or the memory of the war itself.


The film will be briefly introduced by Dr. Ho Nguyen, Professor Emeritus of Economics and Director of Asia Initiatives, St. Mary'sCollege of Maryland, who is a friend of the producer and some of the actors. Dr. Nguyen will also be available to discuss the movie at the end of the screening.


Variety: An anecdotal, semi-documentary reflection on the Vietnam War from the point of view of some young Viet Cong conscripts, Song of the Stork focuses on the human rather than political element to largely engrossing effect. This is the first feature by Singaporean Chinese director Jonathan Foo and Hanoi-born TV and musicvid director Nguyen Phan Quang Binh.


IMDb Viewer: It's pretty straightforward, and played out at times like a pseudo-documentary, with archived footages of the war put into scene fillers. It follows an introduction by a North Vietnamese war correspondent, Tran Van Thuy, and his journeys on the Ho Chi Minh Trail with his fellow comrades. Interspersed with dramatic retelling of the war and happenings in camp, are mini interviews with Tran himself, as well as an American Vietnam War veteran.


While it's about the Vietnam War, the focus here is on the North Vietnamese soldiers, not the usual glorification of the American / South Vietnam view points. While the South does get featured as well, together with its soldiers, they are largely portrayed as lazy and ineffective, often looking after their own personal interests, as opposed to their adversaries, who are committed to the cause, and willing to sacrifice for the good of their fellow men.


Attention to detail is not spared, and I can't help but chuckle on one hand, yet empathizes with soldiers fighting a war given the barest of essentials. Jungle warfare wearing sandals is no joke. Accompanying the narrative is a hauntingly eerie soundtrack, which fit the movie well.


The movie can be easily split into two halves, the first which is about Tran and his journeys, and the second takes a more interesting and sympathetic look at the life of an infiltrator in the South, who sets up family and leads a normal life, until the time comes to rise above and aid his fellow men attacking southwards. Its romantic theme punches through, and probably personified the suffering of families during times of war, when one is often forced to choose between loyalties for country and family.


It's an interesting film to watch, especially with the viewpoints scarcely seen in films about the Vietnam War.



No comments: