Journey to Freedom Day Act Passed in Canada

I’m Vietnamese born and I live in Canada. Somehow the ruling Progressive Conservatives knew that and my email, sending me a statement today from Minister Jason Kenney on the Journey to Freedom Day Act that just got Royal Assent (passed) on Friday, April 24th, 2015. It commemorates the many Vietnamese “boat” people refugees Canada has welcomed since the end of the Viet Nam War.

The statement, attached below, says “thousands” of Vietnamese boat people but they could have added “tens of”. Canada welcomed a LOT of us! Thank you, Canada! We hope we have contributed more than what you expected of us to allow us to be a part of your great country!

Oh, by the way, while it may be popular to spell Vietnam as one word in English, we use the same alphabets and wording system as English, and the country name is two words in Vietnamese. 🙂

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My One Minute Film in the Toronto Urban Film Festival

I am honoured this year to have my one minute film in the Toronto Urban Film Festival this year (TUFF).

Vượt Biên: Voyage of a Diaspora is a metaphorical depiction of the Vietnamese Boat People’s journey for freedom, using photos from the United Nations’ Photo Library and a few from my past.

[December 2011 edit: I’m allowed to share it now that the festival is over]

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The Lucky Few: The Story of USS Kirk (complete film)

The Lucky Few is an hour long documentary about the story of the USS Kirk and its crew in their incredible mission to rescue Vietnamese refugees during Operation Frequent Wind in the final days of the Viet Nam War.

As the War was coming to an end on April 29th to 30th, 1975, Operation Frequent Wind airlifted about 7100 “at risk” Vietnamese (to death from the Communist Viet Cong) and American civilians out of Sai Gon, the capital of South Viet Nam. Some lifts were scheduled. Others were not. The relative American small warship USS Kirk, a destroyer escort, and its crew suddenly found themselves in the midst of a flock of unscheduled airlifts, to which it admirably accommodated even though it was neither meant nor ready to do any such thing.

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Vượt Biên: Voyage of a Diaspora (my One Minute Film project)

Vượt Biên: Voyage of a Diaspora is my silent one minute film that metaphorically depicts the Vietnamese Boat People’s journey for freedom, using photos from the United Nations’ Photo Library, among other sources.

This past spring, I was fortunate enough to have been accepted into the One Minute Film (OMF) program with the Atlantic Filmmakers’ Cooperative (AFCOOP) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This is a video rendition of my OMF project, not a digitization for reasons described in the Production Notes of the film press kit, so the poor quality. However, this will suffice to share with others who would otherwise literally need a film projector to be able to see it.

The film press kit also has much more detail on the topics covered, images, production notes and additional resources about the Vietnamese Boat People.

The One Minute Film experience was an incredible one for me, and I think I could say the same on behalf of my colleagues in the program. We were trained on everything from story development, which is challenging in a one minute film for all kinds of genres, to lighting, camera operations and techniques like animation, film properties and handling, editing, casting, among many other topics. We had a great diversity of styles and genres, and all the hard work paid off as all the films turned out fabulously! I am the first to post mine online, but as more of my colleagues do, I will add links.

You can search one minute film on YouTube to see a whole host of others as this is a genre and program which exists in many countries and has been done for many years.

The OMF project was my first experience with film, but the mentors, instructors and AFCOOP staff did a fabulous job with me and my colleagues to help us produce what we did. In the age of digital YouTube where people just snap and film everything digitally, impromptu, people pick up a lot of bad artistic habits from never having to think about preparing for shots and just take an infinite number of redos until they get something sort of OK. What I learned through the OMF program will be of value to me in many capacities, not just filming, for a long time to come. The skills are valuable for lots of forms of communication, from writing to film to photography, but the preparation habits will be priceless. The discipline from having to work hard for one take so you would prepare as much as possible to prevent things from going wrong is hard to teach, and harder to undo for the young casual digital shooters who never knew what it’s like to have 24 film shots in a camera with a price to develop each shot.

I would highly recommend the film experience if you have never tried it. Check with local film organizations in your local area to see if they have intro film programs, especially something like the One Minute Film program. In Nova Scotia, the entry forms to the program can be found on the AFCOOP site in January, with the deadlines for February 1 or there abouts. Don’t pass it up if you have ever had any inkling to try out making film, even if ultimately digital. The program is free! Your ideas and work are the only things required, with incredible gratification for what you put in.

Aside from big thanks to my OMF colleagues, AFCOOP staff, mentors and instructors, I would also like to thank my Parents and a certain lady at the United Nations photo library in New York, which is not a public archive. When I showed up at their doorstep and told her my story, she signed me in past security and gave me access to their entire digitized collection of Vietnamese refugee photos. That definitely made it easier for me to make this film with all the photos and not having to decide right on the spot which ones I would request. Serendipity has been with me again and again, in ways I could not believe, in the making of this film, and I am grateful to whomever I should be.

Monster Moves Music II, on iTunes in July!

Daniel Pemberton, Monster Moves music composer

Daniel Pemberton, Monster Moves music composer

Back in May, I posted about the awesome choral music from the Monster Moves series and how much I loved it all! Thanks to one of my blog readers, Ross, I am most pleased to say there is new music to be shared! Better yet, all the tracks seen on my posts, and possibly more, will be on iTunes in mid-July!

I have included two new videos below, as shared by Daniel Pemberton, their composer, on YouTube. I LOVE this guy’s work! More of which could be seen on his website, but I’ll save that for another post.

The first of these new Monster Moves tracks and videos I am featuring was released just a few days ago as of this posting, on Jun 21 2009. I am most grateful to Ross for letting me know about it so soon because I would not have known otherwise. How can I say that? Because it was filmed in Halifax, where I live with a view into the harbour where it happened, and I NEVER, EVER, had ANY idea it had taken place!!! That’s how badly the Halifax PR scene is sometimes!

I LOVE Monster Moves, and man, does it EVER SUCK knowing this all happened under my nose!!! That, despite being happy to find out there was great new music, and that it featured the great city in which I lived! Thanks to Wayne Dayton in a comment below, the move was of the retired submarine, HMCS Onondaga. The move was from Halifax to Rimouski. The music is grand as the move, as usual. Nothing less could be expected. Here it is below. Enjoy!


I wonder if a photo I took of a another submarine carried on a barge in April, a barge that could have carried two submarines, had anything to do with Monster Moves. I’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

The second Monster Move track shared is the moving of an ancient 4,100 tonne river queen steamboat, President, on the Mississippi. They moved it 80 miles across land to St Elmo where it seems they will restore it on land after reassembly since they moved it in pieces! Then they have plans turn it into a casino style hotel! Holy smokes!

This time, instead of using choral music, Daniel Pemberton decided to go with a geographically appropriate blues tune.

The guy is good!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.2