Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2008. P.O.V., The American Documentary, isotopefilms. Screenplay by Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath. Cinematography by Ellen Kuras. Produced by Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Ellen Kuras. Music by Howard Shore. Film Editing by Thavisouk Phrasavath. Academy Awards 2008.
Cinematographer Ellen Kuras makes her directorial debut with this affecting documentary. She assembles decades of footage that centre on the life of her co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath, whose father was a member of the American trained military in Laos during the Vietnam War. After the U.S. pulled out of the country, Laotians who had served in the military were left to be punished by the oppressive regime, separating Phrasavath’s father from his wife and eight children for good. Phrasavath and his family (save two siblings) escape to America, finding themselves in New York City, but not living a much better life: the struggle to survive a city that leaves his siblings prey to the influences of gang violence is one as harrowing as the hell they left behind. Quiet, subtle and powerfully moving, this documentary makes a huge political statement by simply telling the story of one family’s experience.