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Daughter From Danang
Daughter From Danang
Actors: Mai Thi Kim, Heidi Neville-Bub, Gerald Ford, Tom Miller, Tran Tuong Nhu
Directors: Vicente Franco, Gail Dolgin
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary, Military & War
NR     2004     1hr 23min

A mix of epic history and intimate family portrait, Daughter from Danang follows the reunion of a Tennessee woman, Heidi, with her Vietnamese mother and siblings after 22 years. Shipped to the U.S. in the waning days of th...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Mai Thi Kim, Heidi Neville-Bub, Gerald Ford, Tom Miller, Tran Tuong Nhu
Directors: Vicente Franco, Gail Dolgin
Creators: Vicente Franco, Gail Dolgin, Kim Roberts, Sunshine Ludder
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Television, Educational, Biography, History, Vietnam War, Military & War
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/17/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 23min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, Vietnamese

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Movie Reviews

Relentlessly depressing, but fascinating
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 06/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"At the age of 7, Heidi Bub was airshipped to the United States when her mother, a Vietnamese woman, gave her up for adoption. Heidi was Amerasian, a result of a relationship between her mother and a US soldier. Heidi was adopted by a single Southern woman (with whom she is estranged), and grows up with a charming drawl and rather American attitudes. Nevertheless, she wants to find her birth mother. This documentary is about Heidi's reunion with her Vietnamese family. You've probably seen long-lost adoption reunions on the news magazines, that end in happy tears and a 'new family.' This is not one of those reunions.
The documentary eventually turns so depressing that a number of ambiguous questions come up. Was it fair for the filmmakers to even reunite Heidi with her family? What are the intentions of Heidi's Vietnamese family? Is Heidi simply heartless, or does her Vietnamese family ask for too much? Does her birth mother even "deserve" anything, considering she abandoned Heidi?
The film-makers maintain a nonjudgemental attitude throughout the film. Nevertheless, several things are striking. One is the utter poverty of rural Vietnam. Heidi's family at times seems greedy and grasping, but look at their living conditions, and you can understand why. Heidi also seems to possess some of the worst "American" traits: a superficial friendliness coupled by profound aloofness. Heidi's mother is the saddest figure of the film, a woman who is haunted by a series of misguided choices in her life. Just the look on her face as she realizes that she's lost her daughter not once, but twice, is heartbreaking.
No matter what "side" you take in this difficult, depressing film, the ending is chilling. One of the recurring themes of the film is Heidi's soft, cherubic face and her sweet, honey-voiced drawl. At the end of the film, all of that is still there, but her words are so ice-cold that you wonder if the continuing fad of adopting foreign children (first from Vietnam, now from Korea, China, or Romania) does more harm than good. "I don't know them," Heidi says of her Vietnamese relatives. But we, the viewers, do know them, and when Heidi says, "I've closed the door on them, but I haven't locked it," I found myself desperately hoping that one day, she'd open the door again."
Be careful what you wish for
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 05/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Heidi is married to a junior American naval officer and living in military housing on a U.S. naval base with their two young children. But, in 1975, Heidi was Hiep, the 7-year old daughter of Mai Thi Kim, a poor Vietnamese woman living in Danang while her husband was off fighting with the Viet Cong. Hiep's biologic father was an American serviceman, with whom Kim had a relationship in order to keep food on her large family's table. When the U.S. forces scurried for home, they took several thousand children of mixed parentage, including Hiep, with them for adoption in the States in Operation Babylift . Hiep was raised in Pulaski, TN as Heidi by a single mother, who convinced the girl to bury her heritage and grow up American. Now, years later, Heidi wishes to discover the identity of her birth mother, much to her foster mother's horror and eventual estrangement. With the help of the original adoption agency, Heidi locates her long-lost family. DAUGHTER FROM DANANG follows Heidi as she travels to Vietnam in 1997 with a Vietnamese social worker, gifts, and good intentions to meet her birth mother and half-siblings.What starts out as an emotional and poignant reunion between Heidi and Kim slides steadily downhill as cultures collide and the collateral damage mounts. As Kim cloyingly attaches herself to her daughter's every movement, one can see troubles ahead. I was irritated that Heidi's Vietnamese travel companion/interpreter apparently didn't give her a clue as to the responsibilities inherent to Vietnamese familial ties, and what might be expected of a perceived-to-be-rich American. By the end of the film, the viewer can only feel profound sympathy for all involved, especially as the initial expectations were so extravagantly high. The history of Kim's family during the Vietnam War is nicely fleshed out with general archival footage of the time and place, e.g. VC on the march, American troops interacting with the locals, the South Vietnamese panic during the U.S. withdrawal, the victorious North Vietnamese forces.Most of the documentary is comprised of interviews with both Kim and Heidi, as well as a visual record of Heidi's one-week interactive visit to her homeland. The repercussions of Heidi's brief sojourn in the Old Country are emphasized by the last sequence of interviews done two years later.While watching DAUGHTER FROM DANANG, several tired-but-true aphorisms came to mind: "Be careful what you wish for", "No good deed goes unpunished", and "You can't go home again". Sometimes it's better just to move on."
Culture Clash
GLBT | Illinois | 04/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This fascinating documentary tells the story of a woman who was born in Viet Nam but was sent by her mother to live in the US at an early age. As she says, she has been "fully Americanized." So, when she takes a trip back to Viet Nam to meet her mother for the first time in over 20 years, her initial excitement quickly changes to disgust and anger with her family. They expect her to assume responsibility for taking care of the mother financially and they have a difficult time understanding why this upsets her so much. From her perspective, though, it's like this bunch of total strangers are suddenly trying to scam her out of her money.In looking at some of the other reviews on this page, it's clear that most people watching this movie blame the woman for not making more of an effort to understand her mother. Certainly, it is painful to see how hurt the mother is by her daughter's total rejection of her. But this is a story about two completely different cultures being forced together and I don't think it's entirely fair to blame her. Is she being selfish? Yes. But you have to try to imagine that you're experiencing what she's experiencing and not simply watching it as a viewer. All her life, she's had this image of what her real family would be like and what kind of person her mother was. Plus she's grown up in an incredibly sheltered environment (about half the people in her home town belong to the KKK, to give you an idea of the background she's coming from). How realistic is it to expect her to adapt to the culture of Viet Nam or to accept her family?It's a sad story to be sure, but if you have any interest in cultural issues, this documentary is powerful stuff."
A Must See Movie
An P Lam | Arlington, Tx United States | 12/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I totally love this movie. Being Vietnamese myself, I understand the way Vietnamese people think (ie. helping family out no matter what). However, I came to the US when I was young just like Heide; therefore, I understand the way she feels. In this movie, Heidi, a mixed child, who came to the US when she was about 7 through an orphanage agency, wanted to find out about her past. She began her journey to find the past with the hope that she could start a relationship with her Vietnamese family. When she went back to VN, she was ready to embrace the love that she has been longing for since she couldn't get it from her adopted mom. You have to understand that Heidi is very Americanized. Besides, she doesn't remember much about her Vietnamese family either. Therefore, when she got to VN and found out that everyone wanted money from her and expected her to help them out, she was shocked. Vietnamese people who still live in VN always want and expect their abroad relatives to help them out. Sometimes, those people don't understand that people abroad don't have a lot of money. You can see in the movie that her biological mom keeps saying that "I come to America with you, ok?" That can say a lot about the mom too. Instead of just let things go easy, everyone bombarded her with things that she would never experience before (sending money home every month to help the mom and siblings, bringing the mom to the US). I don't want to spoil the rest of the movie. So, I am going to cut this short. You should see this movie. I definitely recommend it."