"I LEFT MY HEART...."
As I fly back from Saigon to Chicago, I am reflecting on these past two and a half weeks, which have been truly unforgettable. I can say with all honesty that I have fallen in love with the city that my brother Jim cherished so much. While I regret not having the chance to visit Central or Northern Vietnam on this trip, I am happy to have been able to explore so much of Saigon.
In this email, I will tell you a bit about the first few days of shooting in Saigon. Please also check out my Facebook Live video
. I plan on sending out a second update later on this month.
I arrived Friday December 2nd, late morning via Taiwan. Bret, our camera person picked me up at the airport and took me to my airbnb which is bustling District 1. We then met with Jason, another American, here for lunch. That night I met up with my Vietnamese film crew and the Americans and we planned our week. Saturday was our first film shoot and we went to the area where Jimmy lived with the Vietnamese family. We talked to many people, all of them were very open and friendly and lovely. Of course only the very old people would have known the people we are looking for. We did not immediately find the family Jim lived with but after years of research, we do believe we found the location where they once lived. We also found a woman who believes she knew Luyen, a friend of Jim's.
On our second day of shooting we went to the apartment where two friends of Jim's lived in 1971-72 and Jim stayed there a bit as well. It is very near the "Overseas Weekly" where Jim worked as a journalist, just around the corner and has been closed since 1975. We also went to a beautiful convent called Regina Mundi which is where a lot of Jim's friends had gone to school before he met them. I spoke with an amazing nun named sister Marie Baptiste. I got an email from Phuong Loan Bui who is part of the Bui family that my mother helped in our home town in the 70s. She's now a factory owner here now and she wants to help me with the film. My film crew consists of two Vietnamese men from Hanoi, one man and one woman from Saigon as well as our American cameraman. Vietnamese children and old people are particularly interested in our film shoot.
Everything in this country seems to pivot on "before 1975 vs after 1975." Because Jimmy's story happened before 1975 there is very little knowledge, records etc. as most people relocated or left at in 1975. Still there are many relics and i spoke to three older Vietnamese people who spoke beautiful and perfect French, people in their 80s.
Stay tuned for a continuation of the filming report before the end of the year.
THINK OF US IN YOUR HOLIDAY GIVING
As the year draws to a close, I want to invite those of you who haven't given yet to do so, or those who have invested to consider re-investing. While the $20,000 raised this past summer was a beautiful and exciting start, documentary films usually cost between $100,000-$400,000. Now that filming is done in Vietnam, our funds have been largely depleted and we will once again be in need of revenue for editing costs and for further interviews in the US. Please consider giving
- this independent documentary film can really use your support before December 31st.