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West Vancouver

DOXA Motion Pictures Film Series Presents Last Days in Vietnam

- 9:30pm
Tuesday March 10 2015

Venue: Kay Meek Centre
Address: 1700 Mathers Avenue
Cost: Tickets $12 | Senior & Student $10
Accessibility: yes

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If ever there was a film to prove the famous adage that: "The past is never dead. It's not even past," it is Rory Kennedy’s Academy Award-nominated documentary Last Days in Vietnam. Kennedy details the panic and personal heroism that attended the fall of Saigon in the waning days of the Vietnam conflict. As people employed increasingly desperate measures to escape the country, the stage was set for a staggering final act in this theatre of war. DOXA, in partnership with the Kay Meek Centre, is extremely proud to present the Vancouver premiere of this extraordinary film.

By April of 1975, Communist forces were sweeping across the country. Even as U.S. Ambassador in Saigon, Graham Martin refused to countenance the idea of defeat, delaying the evacuation until the last possible moment, North Vietnamese forces were marching on Saigon. It was the impeachment of Richard Nixon, who the North Vietnamese believed was a genuine madman that had removed all hesitation.

History never fails to astound, but some of the stories in Kennedy’s film genuinely stagger the imagination. As military personnel acted in violation of direct orders to help South Vietnamese escape, commandeering military aircraft to save entire families or organizing black op missions that involved secretly moving people out of the country. In one particularly amazing sequence, American sailors catch babies thrown from helicopters, and pluck people from the ocean. A masterful reconstruction of the chaos that surrounded the American retreat, Kennedy’s film is recounted by the people who lived through it, including interviews with Henry Kissinger, Army colonel Stuart Herrington, and C.I.A. analyst Frank Snepp. Interspersed with personal stories of heroism and regret is archival footage that captures the panic of the time. The parallels to present-day, with the recent withdrawal of US troops from Iraq are clearly apparent, but history possesses a power that is almost staggering in its strength and poignancy.

One of the things that makes Kennedy’s film so powerful is that it’s not just a story of stupidity and tragedy and incompetence, although there’s more than enough of those qualities to be found in the history of America’s Vietnamese misadventure. Of all things, “Last Days in Vietnam” is a tale of heroism, courage and selflessness; a tale about how many American servicemen, intelligence officers and diplomats risked their careers and in some cases their lives to rescue as many Vietnamese civilians as possible.”Salon

“Masterpiece”The New Yorker

Organizer:DOXA Documentary Film Festival

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