Review: ‘Song of the Stork’

An anecdotal, semi-documentary reflection on the Vietnam War from the point of view of some young Viet Cong conscripts, "Song of the Stork" focuses on the human rather than political element to largely engrossing effect. First feature by Singaporean Chinese helmer Jonathan Foo and Hanoi-born TV and musicvid director Nguyen Phan Quang Binh will be welcomed by festival auds and quality TV buyers.

An anecdotal, semi-documentary reflection on the Vietnam War from the point of view of some young Viet Cong conscripts, “Song of the Stork” focuses on the human rather than political element to largely engrossing effect. First feature by Singaporean Chinese helmer Jonathan Foo and Hanoi-born TV and musicvid director Nguyen Phan Quang Binh will be welcomed by festival auds and quality TV buyers.

Recounted by former North Vietnamese army cameraman Tran Van Thuy, film centers on new recruits who arrive at the Xuan Mai Training Camp in summer ’67. Manh is a 16-year-old farmer’s son who lied about his age to enlist; May, from the same village, is a more carefree type. Also in the mix is Hanoi writer Van, who marries his student g.f. during a few days’ leave, and Lam, who becomes a spy below the border. In pic’s most interesting thread, Lam marries a South Vietnamese colonel’s daughter but stays on to welcome Viet Cong troops in Saigon in April ’75 when she and her family flee to the U.S. Tech credits (with color processing done in Bangkok) are tip-top, including a warm, supportive score and some of Tran’s actual B&W footage.

Song of the Stork

Singapore

Production

A MegaMedia Pte. presentation, in association with Hang Phim Hoi Nha Van Vietnam. (International sales: BV Films Intl., Avaldsnes, Norway.) Produced by Peggy Lim, Ngo Thi Bich Hanh. Executive producers, Jonathan Foo, Ngo Thi. Co-producers, Fiona Reilly, Ha Pham Phu. Directed by Jonathan Foo, Nguyen Phan Quang Binh. Screenplay, Nguyen Quang Sang, Thu Bon, Nguyen Duy, Wayne Karlin, Tran Van Thuy.

Crew

Camera (color), Mohd. Jeffri Bin Yusof; editor, Sean Ashley; music, Nguyen Thien Dao, Joshua Hong; production designer, Andy Heng; art director, Nguyen Ngoc Tran. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (World Cinema), Aug. 29, 2002. Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Tran Van Thuy, Wayne Karlin, Duong Quang Vuong, Luu Quang Vinh, Le Dung Nhi, Ta Ngoc Bao, Trinh Mai Nguyen, Ngo Quang Hai, Pham Gia Chi Bao, Do Hai Yen. Vietnamese dialogue.
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