American Experience: Daughter From Danang

American Experience: Daughter From Danang

Director: Gail Dolgin, Vicente Franco

Cast: Gail Dolgin, Vicente Franco, Heidi Bub, Mai Thi Kim

     
 

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As the United States began to withdraw from Vietnam, many Vietnamese women who'd borne children fathered by American servicemen feared for the safety of their offspring, as many Vietcong were extremely prejudiced against people of mixed racial heritage. In 1975, an organization called Operation Babylift was created to help mothers in Vietnam find adoptive parents for…  See more details below

Overview

As the United States began to withdraw from Vietnam, many Vietnamese women who'd borne children fathered by American servicemen feared for the safety of their offspring, as many Vietcong were extremely prejudiced against people of mixed racial heritage. In 1975, an organization called Operation Babylift was created to help mothers in Vietnam find adoptive parents for their children the United States, and Mai Thi Hiep, one such child, found herself relocated to Tennessee at the age of seven. Mai Thi Hiep was given the new name Heidi Bub, and encouraged by her new mother to turn her back on the life and culture she had left behind. Bub easily assimilated into American life, but by the time she had entered college, she had a severe falling out with her adopted mother and decided to renew contact with Mai Thi Kim, the mother she had left behind. Bub had hoped to find the love and acceptance that her adopted mother was unable to give her, but after traveling to Danang to visit Kim and her family,Bub discovered this would be neither simple or easy to arrange -- Bub soon discovered just how different she and her mother had grown to be, Kim's husband bluntly (though without malice) points out that Heidi was the product of his wife's infidelity while he was fighting in the war, and one of Bub's half-siblings asks what their relatively prosperous American relative intends to do to support the family financially. A provocative look at the unexpected consequences of both war and family, Daughter From Danang is a documentary that follows Heidi Bub's journey to Vietnam, and what she found there. Daughter From Danang was awarded the Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, Daughter From Danang is a moving and troubling documentary about Heidi Bub, the daughter of an American serviceman and a poor Vietnamese woman, born in Danang and raised in Tennessee, who returns to Vietnam to see her mother for the first time in over two decades. It's clear from early on in the film that Bub, who was raised as an American by her adoptive mother in Pulaski, the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan, is ill prepared for the reunion with her Vietnamese family. Filmmakers Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco (who also shot the film) do a good job of presenting the history of the misguided Operation Babylift, and include fascinating archival footage of the program. Through contemporary interviews and old photos, they also capture the all-American atmosphere in which Bub was raised, and how quickly and thoroughly she assimilated. The film then takes viewers on an emotional roller coaster as Bub meets Mai Thi Kim, her birth mother. At first, it's a joyous event, and Bub tells of the relief she feels upon feeling loved and accepted, explaining that her adoptive mother was never affectionate toward her. As Bub sees the relative squalor in which her Vietnamese mother and siblings live, and as their cultural differences become more and more obvious, eventually causing a complete breakdown in communication, the film takes on a tragic tone. While viewers will be tempted to blame either mother or daughter for the way things work out, Dolgin and Franco present the situation fairly objectively, making viewers care deeply about both parties, and making a simple assessment of blame impossible. --Josh Ralske
All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, Daughter From Danang is a moving and troubling documentary about Heidi Bub, the daughter of an American serviceman and a poor Vietnamese woman, born in Danang and raised in Tennessee, who returns to Vietnam to see her mother for the first time in over two decades. It's clear from early on in the film that Bub, who was raised as an American by her adoptive mother in Pulaski, the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan, is ill prepared for the reunion with her Vietnamese family. Filmmakers Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco (who also shot the film) do a good job of presenting the history of the misguided Operation Babylift, and include fascinating archival footage of the program. Through contemporary interviews and old photos, they also capture the all-American atmosphere in which Bub was raised, and how quickly and thoroughly she assimilated. The film then takes viewers on an emotional roller coaster as Bub meets Mai Thi Kim, her birth mother. At first, it's a joyous event, and Bub tells of the relief she feels upon feeling loved and accepted, explaining that her adoptive mother was never affectionate toward her. As Bub sees the relative squalor in which her Vietnamese mother and siblings live, and as their cultural differences become more and more obvious, eventually causing a complete breakdown in communication, the film takes on a tragic tone. While viewers will be tempted to blame either mother or daughter for the way things work out, Dolgin and Franco present the situation fairly objectively, making viewers care deeply about both parties, and making a simple assessment of blame impossible.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/17/2004
UPC:
0794054897128
Original Release:
2002
Rating:
NR
Source:
Pbs (Direct)
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Letterbox]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Stereo]
Time:
1:23:00

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