Directed by Trong Gia Nguyen and David Raymond
Produced by Trong Gia Nguyen, David Raymond and Sarah L. Childress
What if your parents and 8 siblings went through a harrowing journey to arrive where they are now and then never spoke of it again with each other or anyone else? What if 40 years later, you decide to revisit that experience with each of them? What are the operations of memory, and what forms do recollections take? Is it even still clear or is it constructed?
Trong Gia Nguyen, an artist, living in Brooklyn, NY escaped from Vietnam on April 30, 1975, the day Saigon fell and the Vietnam War officially ended. His family of 11 fled on the last boat docked in Saigon harbor and got out together with 3 other relatives. After that day, not much was ever spoken about it again. They literally became assimilated in American culture and moved on.
Trong went back to his original homeland a few years ago for a gallery show and was invited to do another in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in February 2015. We will follow him as he prepares for his exhibition. Enfolded in this creative process, the documentary will also visit his surviving family members to find out what each of them remember and where they are now. This film is an exploration of Trong’s unique family identity and history, grounded in Vietnam and a forgotten past, and narrated through the unconventional lens of art.
DONG is intimately connected to Trong's search since it describes (or identifies), on the surface: the Vietnamese currency, racial stereotypes, and family relationships. The film's form will reflect and replicate the "vicissitudes" of memory, in part by calling on others, clearly not related to the family or involved in the memory, to re-present these memories, which draws our attention to the instability of those memories and their intimate relationship to, yet simultaneous distance from, the “rememberers.” Art is life and life is art, and the documentary, in Trong’s eyes, is nothing more than a readymade.