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Khe Sanh Peace Garden: Beautiful things can rise from the ashes

The short documentary film "The Khe Sanh Peace Garden" by Vietnamese-born director Mahoney recently attended film festivals in the US, Japan, Italy, Thailand, India, UK... , won several awards for documentary short, directing and soundtrack.





Sharing with Tuoi Tre about this 25-minute film, director Tinh Mahoney said: "In one way or another, I will try my best to bring The Khe Sanh Peace Garden to Vietnamese audiences.The first time I went to Khe Sanh, I met veterans from both countries. It was a wonderful experience. Friendly handshakes and smiles warm my heart."


"When I walked on the Khe Sanh battlefield, I experienced many emotions, because from being a

child in war to a traumatized adult, I deeply sympathize with the lonely souls on the battlefield. I

made the film with the hope of healing the hearts of those affecte

A cleansing experience

At the beginning of the film, in the line of reminiscing about the Vietnam war, former pilot Dave

Hansen expressed his desire to return to Vietnam to visit the old battlefield and do something

meaningful to wash away the cruel past.

His destination is Khe Sanh, Quang Tri. In this place, in 1968 there was a long battle that took

the lives of many soldiers on both sides of the front line.

Half a century ago, this place was full of death and desolation. Half a century later, friends, family

and Vietnam and American veterans also gathered to plant trees at the Ta Con airport ruins

(Tan Hop commune, Huong Hoa district, Quang Tri) - war fierce school in the past.

The trips, accompanied by the Vietnam Peace Tree Organization, took place in 2012, 2014

and 2018. Dave Hansen was one of the US veterans participating.


Former pilot Dave Hansen 

In the narration, former pilot Dave Hansen said: "It was unbelievable that we could come back here to meet these veterans, planting trees on the land where we used to try to destroy each other. I'm grateful that I've lived long enough to be friends with people who were enemies in the war.

It is also unthinkable for us to want to return to the land where the atrocities took place. It was an unbelievable, cleansing experience. It helps us to live fully in the present and frees us from the obsessions of the past."

The Khe Sanh Peace Garden, produced in 2020 in both the US and Vietnam, features both documentary images from the war and new footage, including many interviews with former pilot Dave Hansen.


Former pilot Dave Hansen (left) at Khe Sanh Peace Garden in the movie The Khe Sanh Peace Garden - Photo: DIRECTOR SUPPLY

"Don't be selfish, don't leave anyone behind"

The crew from many different parts of the United States, when they arrived at Khe Sanh, were disappointed by the thick fog. However, the layer of fog turned out to be lucky as it helped create an atmosphere of gloom and mystery that suited certain parts of the film.

To make up for the lack of visuals and documentary, the director uses some iconic slow-motion movies, interspersed with songs about war, peace, and the human condition after the war. The songs are composed and performed by director Tinh Mahoney.


Behind the scenes of making the film - Photo: DIRECTOR SUPPLY

The title also shows that the film wants to emphasize the journey to build the Khe Sanh Peace Garden, but the film lacks the necessary information of a documentary about charity projects.

The film focuses on Dave Hansen's recollections, but does not clearly portray the role of him and the veterans, as well as the lack of voice from the Vietnamese veterans or the Vietnamese people's perception of the peace garden project.

According to journalist Luu Vi Lan - the author has a special interest in the battlefield in Quang Tri and has brought many former US Marines back to Khe Sanh, the film is nothing new in terms of documentary but 3 cases The songs in the film are all very good, there are a few impressive frames that reflect the foggy characteristics of this land, or always emphasize the typical high mountain peak in the background of the frame about the Khe Sanh base.


Director Tinh Mahoney loves to sing and put music into the film - Photo: DIRECTOR SUPPLY

As a more emotional "text", the film shows the hidden memories and torments of Americans about the Vietnam War, more or less relating the Vietnam War to the new American problem, thereby sending hope that after each war there will be a reconciliation, all enmity will pass... The film is therefore intended for Americans rather than Vietnamese.

The Beloit Film Festival judge said the film depicts "how beautiful things can rise from the ashes of fierce events".

With director Tinh Mahoney, the poignant experiences from the war can help people face the current pandemic disaster. After many years abroad, he returned to his hometown of Phan Thiet, Vietnam to live. "COVID-19 is an invisible enemy.

It doesn't care about politics, rich or poor. During war and in the age of COVID-19, don't abandon your loved ones or those who are by your side. Don't be selfish, don't leave anyone behind," he said.

Khe Sanh - the old battlefield, today's marketplace

TTCT - The sudden morning rain that poured over Ta Con made us stay longer than expected at Victory Museum on Road 9 - Khe Sanh. That time waiting for the rain to stop gave me time to read all the guestbooks when coming here. And the most impressive are the words of a tourist named Vu Thi Anh Tuyet: “Khe Sanh is extremely beautiful. I've tried but still can't imagine the death of bombs and bullets many years ago..."


Dave with tank (bw) copy 3.jpg
Tinh headshot 2.jpg

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