Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees have nurtured a community known as Little Saigon in Orange County, California. Little Saigon burst onto the national stage in 1999 when a Vietnamese American hung a flag of Communist Vietnam and a poster of Ho Chi Minh in his video store. The display triggered 52 days of protests by Vietnamese Americans struggling to reconcile the demons of their past with their present life in America.
This film explores the passions underlying the protests through views of both the older generation, which still mourns the loss of their homeland, and the younger generation, which is chasing the American dream. From a deeply personal perspective, families describe the fall of Saigon, the challenges of losing their home and starting over in a strange country. The younger generation also comes to terms with the distance between themselves and the anger that erupted in the anti-Communist demonstrations at the video store. By tracing the effects of the protests on the personal lives of Vietnamese Americans, SAIGON, U.S.A. connects their stories to the larger historical and cultural landscape and provides a deeper understanding of the Vietnamese American community, American history and the changing face of America.
Areas of study: the Vietnam War and its legacy; refugees, cultural identity, identity formation, and multiculturalism; concepts of community and its diversity; individual vs. community rights; the impact and meaning of images (e.g. poster of Ho Chi Minh); and the impact of history on the present.