French Documentary Far From Vietnam featured in “Whisper of History”

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Whisper of History: Echoes of the Cold War in Asia is an online film programme, organised by NUS Museum from 21 to 30 of September 2020. This programme presents four films arranged around exhibitions and trajectories germane to Cold War History in Asia. Fragments of images arisen from the vestiges of the Cold War offer alternative lines of witness by expressing a certain humanity above histories.

Among the film series is Far From Vietnam (1967), a 120min French feature film initiated and edited by Chris Marker in protest of the American military involvement in Vietnam. The epic collaboration between cinema greats Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch and Alain Resnais was, per Marker’s narration “to affirm, by the exercise of their craft, their solidarity with the Vietnamese people in struggle against aggression”.

The six revolutionary filmmakers from France’s New Wave era come together in this documentary to demonstrate their collective contempt for the Vietnam War. The film, which includes segments directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Agnès Varda, combines war footage with popular culture snippets such as commercials, to prove a point. Interviews with politicians such as Ho Chi Minh are featured, as well as a dialogue between a Vietnamese woman and the widow of a protester.

At its original release in 1967, the reaction was tumultuous: applause clashed with explosive boos in the political edition of the New York Film Festival and right-wing extremists (Occident group) vandalised theatres in Paris. Today Far From Vietnam is re-emerging, free of tangled right issues and running for a day at the NUS Museum film series on the Cold War in Asia.

A milestone in political documentary and in French cinema, the film will be available for free, on 22 of September 2020 (7.30-11pm) by registering here.

Find out more on the other movies (The Little Girl of Hanoi, The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil and Forgetting Vietnam) screened at Whisper of History: Echoes of the Cold War in Asia here.