Apocalypse Then: The Vietnam War On Film
January 27 - May 8
Lecturer: Nora Annesley Taylor
Nora Annesley Taylor is the Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and author of "Painters in Hanoi: An Ethnography of Vietnamese Art."
The war in Vietnam was often called the first television war. Between 1968 and 1975, most Americans watched the unfolding of events in Indochina from the comfort of their living room. After the war ended, Hollywood began to explore the trauma and legacy of the war on the American psyche. With the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive taking place in January 2018, and the recent broadcast of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's PBS documentary on the Vietnam War, these films, along with those made by Vietnamese and Cambodian filmmakers, deserve to be revisited. The series will take a close look at how the war and its legacy was imagined and represented in film, from the perspective of both Southeast Asian and international film makers.
— Nora Annesley Taylor
For nearly forty years, the Gene Siskel Film Center has collaborated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism to provide a unique experience for Chicago filmgoers. Each fall and spring, we present a themed Screening/Lecture series that is both a course taken for credit by enrolled SAIC students, and a weekly series of public screenings open to all ticket-buyers without need of enrollment or registration. A lecturer is chosen for each series from among the leading film scholars and critics in our region.
On each Tuesday during the series, that week's film is briefly introduced by the lecturer and then screened in its entirety. Following the screening, members of the public are welcome to stay for the lecture and participate in the discussion. The films usually have an additional screening, without the lecture and discussion, on Friday or Saturday. Click here to learn more about this program.
Admission to all Lecture/Screening programs is $5 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.
Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock & Roll
2014, John Pirozzi, USA/Cambodia/France, 105 min.
"A moving and informative documentary...It is also a rich and defiant effort at recovery, showing that even the most murderous totalitarianism cannot fully erase the human drive for pleasure and self-expression." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"Gorgeous, hypnotic, and atmospheric...It's a film every bit as entrancing and haunting as the lost music it celebrates." - Jason Heller, The A.V. Club
The Cambodian genocide of the 1970s is a tragedy so massively overwhelming as to defy comprehension. The value of this lively and moving documentary is to narrow the focus to more accessible but by no means trivialized dimensions. Its subject is the country's vibrant pop music scene, which flourished under the arts-friendly regime of Prince Sihanouk, even as the shadow of the escalating war in Vietnam grew into a darkness that would engulf its neighbor. Like Rithy Panh in THE MISSING PICTURE, director Pirozzi is faced with the challenge of representing a history whose traces have largely been erased, and he rises to the occasion with inventive montages that orchestrate sound, image, color, and tempo into an evocative mosaic of glory, disaster, survival, and rebirth. In Khmer, English, and French with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)
Le sommeil d'or
2011, Davy Chou, France/Cambodia, 96 min.
"Inventively directed, immaculately lensed and making excellent use of archival soundtrack songs...The choice of material and manner in which the final images are presented is pure poetry." - Richard Kuipers, Variety
"Rarely has the act of remembering felt so powerful onscreen...SLUMBERS excels because it trusts the audience to imagine its own version of Phnom Penh's golden age." - Sam Weisberg, Village Voice
Like DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN, Davy Chou's film seeks to conjure up a bygone area of Cambodian culture, in this case the popular movies of the Sihanouk era. But Chou, whose grandfather was a leading film producer of the time, is faced with an even more daunting task. Although many of Cambodia's musicians perished under the Khmer Rouge, much of their music survives on vinyl, videocassettes, and YouTube clips. Cambodian cinema, on the other hand, was almost completely destroyed; out of over 400 films, only around 30 still exist in degraded video copies. Chou addresses this absence by focusing, movingly and entertainingly, on the act of memory itself. A handful of surviving filmmakers, actors, and cinephiles describe and reenact the now-vanished films, while the camera roams the sites of once-grand movie palaces, now transformed into karaoke bars, crumbling residences, and empty lots. In Khmer and French with English subtitles. HDCAM video. (MR)
Daughter from Danang
2002, Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco, USA, 83 min.
"Beautifully directed and edited...DAUGHTER FROM DANANG is that rare documentary that incorporates so much of human experience - drama, conflict, tears and surprise - that it transcends the normal divisions between fiction and nonfiction film."-Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
This haunting, double-edged documentary tells of a Vietnamese adoptee's successful quest for the birth mother who relinquished her in 1975, at age seven, to the U.S. government's infamous "Operation Babylift." Heidi (aka Hiep), raised in Tennessee to be "101% American," is virtually smothered by the maternal love she dreamed of for so long, but she is unprepared for her newfound family's readiness to foreclose on the debt of filial obligation they bluntly claim she owes. In English and Vietnamese with English subtitles. 35mm. (BS)
2014, Masahiro Sugano, USA/Cambodia/France, 90 min.
Born in a Cambodian refugee camp, brought to the U.S. at the age of one, and deported as a "criminal alien" at the age of 32 after fourteen years in prison for attempted murder, charismatic spoken-word artist Kosal Khiev is a man of many faces. This edgy portrait foregrounds Khiev's dark, compelling poetry as he navigates statelessness in the company of other deportees in the unfamiliar milieu of Phnom Penh, and struggles for legitimacy as an artist in the wake of an invitation to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. DCP digital. (BS)