The Asian Studies Center, The Jewish Studies Program, The Film Studies
"The Journey of Vaan Nguyen"
October 31, 2006 [Tuesday]
G13 Cathedral of learning,
Israeli filmmaker Duki Dror will introduce and screen his film "The
Journey of Vaan Nguyen". The film treats the experiences of a Vietnamese
family that found refuge in Israel after the fall Saigon and on their
efforts to return to Viet Nam.
What happened to the Vietnamese refugees, and the hundreds that followed
them, in the Jewish state?
One of the opening scenes of the Israeli film "The Journey of Vaan
Nguyen" features one of the original refugees, Hanmoi Nguyen, who has
been in Israel for 25 years. He works in a Tel Aviv restaurant, lives
modestly and with his wife is raising five Israeli-born, Hebrew-speaking
daughters. The oldest girl, Vaan, a writer, has served in the army and
feels Israeli - except for her looks. In the up-front style of her fellow
sabras, they keep asking her whether her eyes are slanted because she eats
so much rice and if she is related to a Chinese martial arts star. Vaan
joins her father in a return to Viet Nam in order to search out her own
roots. She is happy that people on the street look like her, but has
trouble negotiating the language and has no patience with the elaborate
circumlocutions of social intercourse. To the natives, Vaan herself has
become a foreigner, and she laments, "I am a tourist, I am an Israeli."
The agony of being suspended between two civilizations, without being fully
at home in either one, is sensitively, at times heartbreakingly, portrayed.
The film is in Hebrew and Vietnamese with English subtitles.