The full shabang of FLEFF immersion came this weekend when watching The People vs Agent Orange Documentary and following up by attending the talkback for the film.
It is one thing to draw your own takeaways from the film and be left in almost a state of shock after the collection of visules and testimonies of real people hit in waves of emotions.
By attending the talkback I was able to hear well educated scholars first engage in a discussion to inform their audience on this issue that not everyone is away is a present danger. Fred Wilcox, a retired Associate Professor from Ithaca College’s Writing Department who has written four books with the perspective on the veterans who are affected by their exposure to the chemicals used in the Vietnam War.
He pointed out that Agent Orange is not an issue that disappeared after the war and that it has long term effects that are apparent in Vietnam in the fourth generation of children born whose genetic makeup is completely altered because of the dioxins. One of the ways he promoted there to be action for change is to go to the country and see these people first hand and understand how there is scientific evidence that is hidden by the government and chemical companies that prove their health conditions are in fact caused by the dioxins.
Tricia Euvrard, a Masters Student in Gender Studies and Law at SOAS, University of London also spoke on her involvement as she is a member of the Collective Vietnam Dioxin that is based in France that works to fight for compensation for the victims of Agent Orange. She spoke of other racism and colonialism that are also a driving force in why this chemical was used and how there is not much work done to fix the problem. Just the physical areas where Agent Orange is chosen to be used is an indication of colonialism still being rampant in society, it just has taken on a new form of silent attack by chemical warfare on communities.
Hearing these views after watching the films, made the impact of these people fighting to share the wrongdoings of chemical companies hit with force. Just watching a film can spread awareness, but the fact that there are many people dedicating their life to this investigative journalism in not only a documentary style but to incorporate people whose writing is also stating there is a demand for attention to this situation.
This experience of hearing the coming together of a “team”, where people share a common fight even if they may not know one another or are spread across the globe. From a Professor at my own college to hearing from people working on the ground in Vietnam, studying in France, but all working to spread the same message in their own way.
Activist Tran To Nga, Left, Who Divides Her Time between a Suburb of Paris and Vietnam, Visits Several of the Fourth Generation of Victims of Agent Orange in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in the Documentary “The People vs. Agent Orange.” (Scott Sinkler).