Coming Soon: Theatrical Release in Early 2024
Feature-length film, THE MOTHERLOAD (2023) is written by Van Tran Nguyen and directed by Van Tran Nguyen and Alex Derwick.
In continuation with ERIE COUNTY SMILE *(2021), this new film further explores satire and nostalgia. THE MOTHERLOAD posits an intervention in the auteur director’s impulse to make war films. I interrogate the purportedly anti-Vietnam War sentiments of filmmakers from the late 1970s to the end of the century. The case studies referenced in my movie are *Apocalypse Now (1979) directed by Francis Ford Coppola, FULL METAL JACKET (1987) directed by Stanley Kubrick, and Platoon (1986) directed by Oliver Stone. The MOTHERLOAD starring Sang Tran, who is also my mother. Her lived experience is informed by post-war Vietnam. As she re-enacts (shot-for-shot) selected scenes from the case studies, I explore the limitations of an “antiwar” sensibility. By process of creating a stunning tableau of violence and situating empathy or point-of-view, implicitly enlists empire and subject, or more plainly, winners and losers. I argue that by virtue of representing war, dematerializes antiwar sentiments. I make the argument that these movies have “placed Vietnam in amber” as a place of constant conflict; rendering Vietnam as not a nation but a war. The erasure of post-war Vietnam; its rebuilding and governmental collapse are largely unrecognized in these case studies. The “Vietnamese” characters are often not depicted by Vietnamese actors and are sparsely written as an Asiatic enemy, this further complicates the director’s claim of an antiwar representation and materializes the empirical consequences of these films.
Directed By: Van Tran Nguyen and Alex Derwick// Written By: Van Tran Nguyen// Director of Photography: EP Press// Editing By: Alex Derwick// Music By: Brendan Picone// Color By: Tam Le, of Sodalite// VFX Artist: Mengtai Zhang// Translations By: Kieu-Anh Troung and Thuy-Dung Ho