"I want to say something about the importance of this film. Working this campaign has made me think (24/7) ever more deeply about why I'm doing this and what it means. We find ourselves today embroiled in a constant state of war. The way we got here has a great deal to do with the historical turning point that took place in Vietnam. It's easy to talk about these matters in academic terms, to spout opinions, make political points, but the reality is manifested in young men (and now young women) who carry the war with them for the rest of their lives. Deryle, and these other men, are struggling with what they did on orders from our government more than forty years ago! And yet we continue. Same Same But Different seeks to impress upon the viewer how heavy that weight is and what true heroism these men display by returning to Vietnam armed with plowshares instead of guns." --Moises, Update #3, 3/25/12
Long after that last helicopter lifted off from the American Embassy in Saigon, Veterans of that War have quietly returned to their former battlegrounds to clear unexploded ordnance, work with victims of Agent Orange, and build schools and orphanages. Same Same But Different is their story. (Go to samesamebutdifferentfilm.com.)
In 2007, the two of us completed Dangerous Highway, a full-length documentary about the late, great, unknown Alabama blues singer Eddie Hinton (go to marabiproductions.com to see a clip). During our numerous trips to the South, Deryle told stories about growing up in Florence, Alabama. And those stories inevitably led to his joining the Army and going to Vietnam. Vietnam and its aftermath became more and more insistent until it became apparent we were going to have to make another documentary.
We travelled to Vietnam in 2008 and 2010 to record oral histories and document the Lunar New Year Celebration and the 40th Anniversary of the 1968 Tet Offensive. From Saigon (Ho Chi MInh City) to the Central Highlands, we visited firebases and outposts where the film's producer had served as a 20 year old Army Sergeant in 1968 during the Tet Offensive. In Dak To, Pleiku and Kontum we interviewed Americans on their own war pilgrimages. In Nha Trang we interviewed a former North Vietnamese General who later invited us to a traditional Tet dinner with family members.
In Nha Trang we also met and interviewed several of the dozens of American combat Veterans now living in Vietnam. It was there we realized we wanted to focus on the unsung heroes who are dedicating their lives to heal the wounds they opened all those years ago. Specifically, there is Chuck Searcy who runs PROJECT RENEW, an ordnance clearing project that has literally saved thousands of lives and limbs. During the Vietnam War, the United States dropped more bombs on South Vietnam than all the bombs that were dropped in Europe and Asia during the Second World War. There is also Suel Jones, a veteran who worked many years for the Friendship Village, an organization that takes care of Agent Orange victims (another terrible gift of the U.S. military that keeps on giving). Former Marine, Chuck Palazzo, also advocates for Agent Orange victims. And, of course, there is Mr. Perryman, himself, who is determined to open a school in the Central Highlands where he was stationed during the war.
We have collected oral histories, archival footage and hours of original music pertaining to the war for years now. In August of 2007, at the 40th Anniversary meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, we interviewed founders and members. A trip to Massachusetts a month later yielded six more interviews with combat Veterans. A research trip to the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass in Boston uncovered unseen footage of the war shot by North Vietnamese photographers and cinematographers as well as the 12,000 photograph collection of photojournalist Francois Sully, who covered the war from 1964 to 1971. We began initial research in the Gloria Emerson Collection of Vietnam War Photographs. Emerson won awards for her war coverage for the New York Times. These rarely seen collections along with "Nam and The Sixties", a collection of photographs taken by GI's and civilians during the war years, will provide a unique visual chronicle of the war and the turmoil and conflict it generated. We also spent hours at the National Archives looking for previously unseen footage recorded during the Tet Offensive in 1968.
FOTOSHOWS: IMAGES SHOT IN VIETNAM BY MOISES AND DERYLE HAVE RECENTLY COME TOGETHER TO FORM TWO SEPARATE PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITS CURRENTLY HANGING IN ALBUQUERQUE.
MOTOFOTOSHOW (HANGING AT FARINA IN ALBUQUERQUE): TELLS THE STORY OF THE UBIQUITOUS MOTO IN SAIGON AND BEYOND.
SAMESAMEFOTO (HANGING AT SCALO IN ALBUQUERQUE): IS A COLLECTION OF FACES AND PLACES FROM SAIGON TO HANOI. WHILE FOCUSING ON THE BEAUTY OF THE PEOPLE AND THE COUNTRY TODAY, THE IMAGES ALSO REVEAL THE SCARS STILL VISIBLE AFTER ALL THESE YEARS.
- (26 days)