I got two interesting emails this morning. One from journalist and author John T. Edge who notified me that his story on Vietnamese crayfish restaurants in the United States was published today in the New York Times. After reading John T's terrific piece (yours truly was quoted!), I opened up an email from Tan, an editor at The Guide travel publication in Saigon. Tan sent a link to Sad Song of Yellow Skin, a documentary shot in 1970 in Saigon. Directed by Michael Rubbo, the film is now available from the Canadian National Film Board.
I was riveted to my computer screen. I called my husband over, even as he was rushing to go to work. Sad Song of Yellow Skin is one of the most compelling movies I've seen on pre-1975 Vietnam. The movie captures the experience of three young American journalists to tell the stories behind the lives of Vietnamese people. I caution you that the piece is disturbing at many points.
You'll see plenty of cooking going on -- catch the woman who blows air into a duck with her mouth! Not quite like my approach to blowing up a duck. It was a tough time, and Rubbo conveyed plenty of edgy tension and ambivalence. The Vietnamese were caught in an odd limbo, trying to stay afloat, trying to make sense of the chaos around them, trying to find peace.
After watching Sad Song of Yellow Skin, let know your thoughts to this question: Many things have changed in Vietnam since 1970 but what has not? Did the filmmakers have a political agenda?
Don't hold back on the good, bad and not-so-pretty.