my_fathers_vietnam_1Year: 2016
Director(s): Soren Sorensen
Writer(s): Soren Sorensen
Region of Origin: US
Rating: Unrated
Digital, Color, 79 mins

Synopsis: A personal documentary about a public subject, personifying the Vietnam War. (Source)

Soren Sorensen’s My Father’s Vietnam is a moving, deeply personal reflection of how war doesn’t end out on the battlefield with guns and bullets. As shown here, its effects are passed down through the family tree, affecting those we love, our children and even friends for generations, despite our failure to sometimes notice. What the film lacks in artistry or production value, it makes up for with first-hand reverence and a respect for the lives that were traded for Vietnam.

The documentary begins with filmmaker Soren Sorensen as he recants the earliest recollections of his father, Peter, during the aftermath of the Vietnam war. Shifting from his outsider’s perspective, Peter takes us into his personal memories, allowing the film to spin off and cover two of his friends, Ring Bailey and Glen Rickert, who weren’t lucky enough to make it back. Told through intimate interviews, 8mm footage and personal photographs, the film explores the lives behind the sacrifice and how behind each solider, was a fully formed human being with aspirations, fears and hope.

my_fathers_vietnam_2The film’s greatest strengths are the human details that emerge through each person’s recollections. We learn of the conflict involved with each man’s decision to enlist before being drafted, the families and wives that were being left behind, and even the men they might’ve gone on to be had the war not interrupted with their dreams. These were normal men, Hemingway fans, aspiring journalists and more, who put up with extreme day-to-day conditions, yet still managed to remain hopeful in their correspondence letters, shielding those back home of the horrors across the world. Survivor’s guilt eventually plays into things for Peter, the only survivor of the discussed trio, and it’s here when Soren realizes how much of a silent affect this has had on his life and those around him.

My Father’s Vietnam fits in with something like a History Channel special, albeit a lot more experiential and haunting – there’s more weight to it and it’s a beautiful way to humanize and importantly remember the many sacrifices that took place. With it’s poignant viewpoint and some undeniably personal stakes, this is a rarely seen look at the cost of war and how it follows many of us around even if we don’t realize it.

Visit Sorensen’s website for more.

SG