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The Sound of the Violin at My Lai

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Directed by Tran Van Thuy

Produced by the Central Documentary and Scientific Film Studio, Hanoi

”Best Short,“ 1999 Asian Pacific Film Festival, Bangkok 1998. 32 Minutes. VHS. Color.

Distributed by The Video Project P.O. Box 411376, San Francisco, CA 94141-1376

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The Sound of the Violin at My Lai, winner of “Best Short” at the 1999 Asian Pacific Film Festival in Bangkok, opens with the story of former U.S. marine Mike Boehm, who plays his violin at the site of the massacre as an offering to the sprits of the dead, then stays to work for reconstruction and for the creation of a Vietnamese-American Peace Park. But Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Van Thuy’s documentary is not limited by nationality, nor by the past, though it is shaped by both. It is a story about a village, a story about war, about integrity in the face of atrocity, about rebuilding out of terrible destruction. It is a story made forVietnamese audiences that speaks deeply to Americans.

The film moves from past to present, between remembering and transformation. The sepia-toned images that accompany a straightforward narration of events are crisscrossed by bright-colored footage of laughing children at play. Scenes of school children running gaily down a village path once strewn with bodies are cut through by cameos of survivors holding famous newspaper photos of their mothers and sisters who died, reminding grandchildren never to forget. While one man sits by the tablet that marks the death of his entire family, other villagers work the fields and ply the river.