February 27, 2003

Cornell Cinema

Print More

The power of Daughter From Danang is not derived from the predictable emotionality of its mother-daughter reunion storyline, but from the decidedly unexpected consequences of this reunion. The story begins in Vietnam at the end of the American war there, as President Ford tried to boost American support for the war by proposing Operation Babylift. Under the auspices of this program, thousands of Vietnamese children — some orphans, but many whose mothers were coerced into giving them up — were flown to the United States to be adopted by American families.

One of these children was adopted by a single mother in racist Pulaski, Tennessee, all the while wondering about the life she may have left behind. Twenty-two years later this young girl, renamed Heidi Bub, was married with two children of her own, when she was finally given the opportunity to reunite with her birth mother. But the trip back to Vietnam would not be as easy as it might seem.

The poignancy of this film comes largely from its complex depictions of the emotional effects of this meeting on both mother and daughter. Unforseen problems arise from cultural differences which the exceedingly na