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Last days in Vietnam

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During Sundance 2014, Rory Kennedy shares a behind-the-scenes look at her documentary ‘Last Days in Vietnam’ during the Women In Film Directors Panel. Producer Lucy Webb moderates this panel called ‘Truth Be Told’ on Main Street in Park City, Utah. The Goody Awards supports women empowerment and sends a Hero Goody Award to Rory Kennedy for this powerful documentary. (Published on Jan 23, 2014)

A Review of Rory Kennedy’s ‘Last Days in Vietnam’
Dan Southerland
Posted on September 10, 2014

I was aboard one of the last helicopters out of Vietnam in late April 1975. Having covered the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia for The Christian Science Monitor in the early 1970s and worked for UPI in Vietnam for several years before that, I was not surprised that a new documentary on Vietnam would engulf me with a flood of memories, some of which I wish I could erase from my mind.

Last Days in Vietnam, by filmmaker Rory Kennedy (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, Ethel), chronicles some of the personal stories behind the 1975 evacuation of Saigon. As a witness to the event, I should make my biases and experience clear from the start. I did not buy the idea that the Communists would bring a bloodbath to South Vietnam, as one rumor had it. But I did feel that many South Vietnamese would be treated badly under the new regime. So I spent my last few days in Saigon trying to arrange for several Vietnamese whom I’d known to get onto military or civilian airplanes while they were still flying, or onto one of those U.S. Marine helicopters that arrived near the very end.

I had lived in Vietnam long enough to sympathize with many of the South Vietnamese who I knew were caught in a trap, surrounded by a North Vietnamese Army that was rapidly closing in. I understood the fears of some and the naïve hopes of others. I was able, at the last minute, to arrange for a former high-ranking Vietnamese official to get out. He would likely have died a slow death in a “re-education camp” if he hadn’t escaped. I also helped a Vietnamese university professor to escape on the last day of the war after he called to me through the fence surrounding the U.S. Embassy. But I was less successful with others whom I knew. I advised my Vietnamese teacher to stay because I felt the new regime would have nothing against her and because her mother needed her. But I failed to convince an interpreter who I had worked with to leave, because he was convinced that no one would punish him since he was relatively poor.

That turned out to be wrong… MORE


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