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Special interview with KLEFF 2010 Winner for Best International Film ('Agent Orange' 30 Years Later'), John TrinhSalem-News.com
From our friends with the Agent Orange Action Council.
(DA NANG, Vietnam) - EcoKnights recently caught up with the 2010 KLEFF winner for the Best International Film, Vietnamese-born American John Trinh; he shares his first experience at the festival, his winning film “Agent Orange: 30 Years Later” and his future plans in the world of film making. Trinh made a visit to Malaysia for the first time in 2010 when he was invited by the Eco Film Festival Secretariat.
He met and made many friends and walked home with the trophy for the Best International Film. “Agent Orange: 30 Years Later” touched the lives and hearts of many Malaysian audience as they watched the impacts of a toxic chemical on the health of nature and human.
EK: Was it your first time to Malaysia in 2010? How was your experience in Malaysia and in the country’s first green film festival?
EK:What inspired you to do a film on the impacts of Agent Orange on Vietnam and its people?Can you provide a brief background on what prompted you to focus on this story?
JT: I had grown up in Viet Nam during the war before I moved to the US in 1987. I had never heard of Agent Orange until 2005. That was 30 years later since the war ended in 1975. I accidentally found an article about the lawsuit of the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the US government in New York on the internet. Looking at the pictures of the victims of Agent Orange on the internet, I got goose bumps all over my body. I thought I could be a victim as well without knowing it, and so could be millions of other Vietnamese people. I began to study Agent Orange and as I realized how evil and poisonous dioxin was, I decided to make a documentary film to show the atrocity and the long-term effects of war –chemical warfare especially, on the environment as well as the people. I wanted to dedicate the film to all the victims of Agent Orange whether they are Americans, Vietnamese or Koreans… so that they don’t die ignored.
EK: Any of your family members were victims of this monstrosity?
JT: I don’t believe so. I am an artist and my work is always about what I feel strongly about, such as anti-violence, anti-war, justice and love.
EK: Any particular moments during the filming of Agent Orange, that was memorable?
JT: There were many memorable moments. One of the moments that struck me profoundly was when I interviewed a young girl with a deformed face. One half of her face portrayed a normal pretty young girl. The other half appeared to belong to someone else’s face. It was swollen and alive yet emotionless, and it clung awkwardly onto the other half of the girl’s face. I zoomed in to see what gender that face belonged to, but I couldn’t tell. Holding my camera, I was shaking. I felt bad as I thought I was insensitive for doing so, but at the same time I said to myself that was a typical image of evilness of chemical warfare and that’s reality. I needed ingenuous materials and strong stories to make the film. Later I decided to put the girl’s face on the cover of the film DVD as a symbol of chemical warfare atrocity.
EK: What is your take on the perception of what the Americans did to the nation of Vietnam?
The US government needs to recognize the mistake and do the right thing. That is to compensate all the victims of Agent Orange.
EK: How did you feel when you found out you won the Best International Film at the 2010 Eco Film Festival?
EK: Are you planning on working on more films soon?
To watch a trailer of “Agent Orange: 30 Years Later”, see below.
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