The movie "Journey from the Fall" is one that made a big impression on the both of us. Not only was it a film that focused on the Vietnamese perspective for once, but it also portrayed aspects of the war that often get ignored in traditional retellings in (American) high school textbooks, like the reeducation camps, the boat people refugee experience, and the immigrant experience. We were also deeply inspired by how this movie was completely funded by the Vietnamese American community, and what inspired its inception - in the words of director Ham Tran in his Director's Statement:
"If history is written by the victors, then folklore is the testimony of the vanquished. When I was researching communist re-education camps and Vietnamese boat people to write Journey From The Fall, I met with these dilemmas: 1) The short chapter in American history books about the Vietnam War ends on April 30, 1975, the day American forces pulled out of Vietnam. Our story begins where the history books end. 2) I couldn’t find any images of the communist re-education camps and could collect only a handful of boat people images from rescue archives.
So was it all just folklore then – the incredible stories of survival that my friend Uyen tells me about how she fled Vietnam in a tiny fishing boat packed with nearly 100 people, that drifted for 22 days, how they were robbed by pirates several times, and how she witnessed a woman losing her sanity because she was raped repeatedly by pirates in every one of those encounters? Such stories are very common among Vietnamese immigrants, yet virtually non-existent for the rest of the world. Why is that so?
The answer became clear to me the first time I saw the black and white production stills taken by Carol Petersen (our production photographer) for Journey From The Fall. When I saw the stills of the Fall of Saigon scene I realized that the world does not know about the communist re-education camps and Vietnamese boat people because they’ve never seen images of them before. No one was there to document this journey that over two million Vietnamese were forced to take in the three decades since April 30, 1975..."