After last years agreement between the Vietnamese Film Instituut and the European Foundation Joris Ivens to establish an active partnership director André Stufkens visited Vietnam on the invitation of director Vũ Nguyên Hùng. The purpose of the successful visit was to make concrete appointments further developing this collaboration of exchange of knowledge and expertise.
Film still from The Threatening Sky (1966) with a meeting between Joris Ivens and president Ho Chi Minh in 1965.
The entrance of the Vietnam Film Institute at Hanoi. This national film archive with 200 employees also has a branch in Ho Chi Minh City.
Research about the four Vietnam films
On Saturday March 11th André Stufkens handed over to directeur Vũ Nguyên Hùng 1.710 digital files from the archive, related to the activities of Joris Ivens in Vietnam between 1964 and 1970. Ivens arrived secretely in 1964 on the invitation of the North-Vietnamese government. Two months later the USA started bombarding the country. From the very beginning Ivens was in the unique position eye witnessing with his camera what he described as ‘the biggest colonial war the world ever has seen’. The four Vietnam films which Ivens made during these years played an important role in raising awareness of the Anti-War movement and their protest campaigns.
In two films unique excerpts can bes een of Ivens’ meetings in 1965 en 1968 with president Ho Chi Minh.
Both institutes intend to start projects researching these archive materials, both the films, scripts and other paper documents, photos and film posters. The results of this research could be presented in November 2018 during an internationaal Joris Ivens Event in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It concerns four films:
1- Le ciel, la terre (1965, The Threatening Sky)
2- Loin de Vietnam (1967, Far from Vietnam, met William Klein, Agnes Varda, Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, Joris Ivens en Marceline Loridan-Ivens)
3- Le 17e parallèle (1968, The 17th Parallel, met Marceline Loridan-Ivens)
4- Rencontre avec le Président Ho Chi Minh (1970, Meeting with president Ho Chi Minh, with Marceline Loridan-Ivens)
Visit of film locations
A Vietnamese film crew of the Vietnam Film Institute accompanied the delegation during the week shooting the various meetings. In the center of the 2.000 kilometer long stretched country various locations were visited where Joris Ivens and Marceline Loridan-Ivens shot their long documentary The 17th Parallel in May-June 1967. The Ben Hai river was at the time the border between communist North-Vietnam and South-Vietnam, supported by the USA. A large region surrounding this river was appointed ‘Demilitarized Zone’ (DMZ), but tragically this central region, ment as a war free buffer, became victim of the most heaviest and worst war violence. Seven ton of bombs were dropped by the USA air force, per each Vietnamese, understood. Approximately three million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed. On American side 58.000 victims fell to regret. Even after the war was ended in 1975 another 8.500 Vietnamese died as the result of Agent Orange, Dioxine and other chemical war fare. In the Quan Tri province 10 percent of the population is suffering from a handicap because of these chemical war fare.
Mr. Duc Hoa, 61 years of age now, acted in The 17th Parallel. He was at the time 12 years young and moved the film audience with his testimony about his support of the Peoples Army. He received the film crew at his private house and later on brought them to the various film locations, among others the bridge crossing the Ben Hai river and the waving flag with which the film of Ivens and Loridan-Ivens opened. The next day he accompanied the delegation to a farmer and his family in Vinh Linh, who just like Duc himself acted in the Ivensfilm. Mr. Chung and Duc gave new informative details about the stay of Ivens and his wife during five weeks in the well known shelthers and tunnels of Vinh Linh shooting daily life with extreme war violence.
The film crew and delegation on the bridge crossing the Ben Hai river. In the 1960s this river divided the country in North (see blue railing) and South (see yellow railing). The opening sequence of The 17th Parallel shows this bridge and a waving flag. Mr Duc Hoa and his wife (with hat), mrs. Mai Hoang, head of international relationships of the Vietnam Film Institute (with sun glasses), the filmcrew, Mr. Adrian Spijkers and his wife Nanh Loc and Andre Stufkens.
Two film stills from The 17th Parallel. Left: The waving flag and the Ben Hai river. right: The bridge crossing the Ben Hai river. These shots were very dangerous. The camera man who climbed the flag pole became directly in the crosshairs of the enemy on the other side of the river. There is still a military post left on that spot.
Mr. Duc and Mr. Chung gave new details about the stay in the 'International Guest House' in the underground shelters of Vinh Linh, protected by artillery of the Peoples Arrmy.
Film still from The 17th Parallel with the young Duc (12 years). Film still from The 17th Parallel with childeren playing cards in front of the entrance of the Vinh Linh underground shelter.
Mr. Duc was nine years young when he succeeded in acquiring the measures and location of a small military airport of the South, which was devastated thanks to his information. He received two medals for this heroic achievement and this was the reason why he was asked, two years later, to tell his story in front of the camera of Joris Ivens and Marceline Loridan-Ivens. It moved audiences around the world. Also for his contribution to the film he received two medals.
Medical Committee Netherlands Vietnam
On Monday the delegation visited the Holland Hospital in Dong Ha. Exactly in the hardest hit area the Medical Committee Netherlands Vietnam (MCNV) built from 1974 on a hospital, which was shipped in compartments from Rotterdam harbour to Quan Tri. In 1974 this place looked like a moon landscape, everything devastated and completely covered with bomb shells. This Holland Hospital still exists albeit in a completely new and modern building. Guus Paardekoper, the present CEO of the MCNV, showed the museum building with unique photos and posters about the many solidarity campaigns in The Netherlands from the year 1968, when the MCNV started. Some 80.000 donors gave millions to send medical supplies to Vietnam. Ad Spijkers, member of the delegation, was very much involved in these campaigns, a.o.'Bikes for Vietnam'. He invited Jane Fonda, was involved in the visits of Kim Phuc to the Netherlands through the MCNV and of various Vietnamese professors, for instance the minister of Health Care. When he became representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the Untied Nations he was able to realize project improving the agriculture of Vietnam. From a country with famine Vietnam developed into a large exporter of rice.
The MCNV has 35 employees active in the field working on health, nutrition, sustainable production and mainstream education for children with disabilities. MCNV works from offices in Vietnam, Lao PDR and The Netherlands. All activities of MCNV aim at sustainable improvement of the situation of disadvantaged groups in society.
Meeting with the CEO of the MCNV, Guus Paardekooper and his staff members and the Duthc delegation at the offcice in Dong Ha.
In the MCNV-Museum Adrian Spijkers is telling stories about the solidarity campaigns in The Netherlands. At the right Mr. Bang of the Vietnam Film Institute.
Joris Ivens Event in 2018
In Hanoi André Stufkens had a meeting with the director of the Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema, prof. dr. Nguyen Dinh Thi. He showed big interest in creating exchanges.
Also the Dutch Ambassador in Vietnam, Mrs. Nienke Trooster, saw opportunities for an Ivens Event in 2018. She explained that the knowledge and interest about Vietnam in The Netherlands is quite limited, although Vietnam is a large country, with a population of almost 100 million people, an every year increasing economic growth and an important trade partner. To her regret the image of Vietnam in The Netherlands is still either romantic or distorted.
Meeting with the director of the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema, Prof. dr. Nguyen Dinh Thi.
Meeting with the Dutch Ambassador in Hanoi, Dr. Nienke Trooster, about creating cyultural activities in Vietnam. Adrian Spijkers on the right.
With this visit of the Ivens Foundation to Vietnam a network of reliable stakeholders has been established, with whom the plans for 2018 will be worked out.