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Page 38
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New Documentary on Vietnam Seeks Funders


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Long after that last helicopter lifted off from the American Embassy in Saigon, uncommon Vietnam vets have quietly returned to their former battlegrounds to clear unexploded ordnance, work with victims of Agent Orange, and build schools and orphanages. Same Same But Different, by filmmakers Deryle Perryman and Moises Gonzalez, tells their stories.

Among them:

  • Chuck Searcy runs PROJECT RENEW, an ordnance clearing project that has literally saved thousands of lives and limbs.
  • Suel Jones worked many years for the Friendship Village, an organization that takes care of Agent Orange victims.
  • Chuck Palazzo advocates for Agent Orange victims.
  • Deryle Perryman himself is determined to open a school in the Central Highlands where he was stationed during the war.

To make the film, Deryle and Moises traveled to Vietnam in 2008 and 2010 to record oral histories and document the Lunar New Year Celebration and the 40th Anniversary of the 1968 Tet Offensive. From Saigon to the Central Highlands, they visited fire bases and outposts where Deryle had served as a 20-year-old Army Sergeant in Tet 1968. In Dak To, Pleiku and Kontum they interviewed Americans on their own war pilgrimages. In Nha Trang they interviewed a former North Vietnamese General who later invited them to a traditional Tet dinner.

As well, the film makers have collected oral histories, archival footage and hours of original music pertaining to the war for years now.

A trip to Massachusetts yielded six interviews with combat veterans. At the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass Boston they studied various war photos. These included the Gloria Emerson Collection of Vietnam War Photographs (Emerson won the Polk Award for her New York Times war coverage, and her book, Winners and Losers won the National Book Award), footage shot by the North Vietnamese, and 12,000 photographs by war photojournalist Francois Sully.

The film makers are hoping to raise funds to complete the project and bring it to a wide audience. To help Deryle and Moises visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/320072119/same-same-but-different.

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