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The Friendship Village

An international group of veterans builds a village in Vietnam for children with Agent Orange-related deformities.

A printer-friendly version of this page 51 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Michelle Mason
Produced by Cypress Park Productions

"**** Truly inspiring" Ingrid Randoja, The Eye, Toronto
THE FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE is a documentary film about an international group of veterans who are building a village in Vietnam for children with Agent Orange-related deformities.

Built on a former rice paddy near Hanoi, the Vietnam Village of Friendship stands not only as a symbol of peace and reconciliation, but as a testament to the potential for all people to come to terms with the past, heal the wounds of war, and create a better world.

Following the story of the village's founder, American veteran George Mizo, THE FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE takes us through his experiences of war's horror to the personal transformation that led to the birth of this remarkable village. Working alongside the Vietnamese general responsible for killing his entire platoon in 1968, George and other veterans from the US, Vietnam, France, Germany, Japan, Great Britain and Australia are attempting to mitigate the ongoing effects of the toxic herbicide sprayed during the war. Their efforts are a powerful example of how average people can still make a profound difference in our increasingly globalized world. As such, the Vietnam Friendship Village has the potential to change not only the lives of the children who live in it and the men who build it, but all who come to understand its vision.

Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2003     Copyright Date: 2002
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-102-9     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-995-9

"**** Mason's use of powerful stock footage of the war is nicely combined with interviews with Friendship Village's founder, George Mizo, whose hawk-to-dove transformation is truly inspiring."
Ingrid Randoja, The Eye, Toronto

"The energy and clairity of Michelle Mason's vision in THE FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE pours off the screen. This film has the potential to be a transformational experience for anyone remotely willing to open their heart and mind to this tragic, yet inspiring story."
Mark Achbar, filmmaker MANUFACTURING CONSENT

"Pay attention to Michelle Mason's moving anti-war documentary..."
Wendy Banks, Now, Toronto

"An extraordinarily moving and powerful film. It is by turns heartrending and inspiring. Centering it on the experiences and thought of Vietnam veteran George Mizo was a brilliant idea. I believe the film is a proper tribute to the life of this remarkable human being. I hope this film will be seen by large numbers of young people, to remind them of what the U.N. charter calls 'the scourge of war.'"
Howard Zinn, Author, A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present, Terrorism and War

"Veterans from three different wars were transfixed and inspired by The Friendship Village story of tragic wounds and transformative healing. If every American could see and learn from this film, perhaps we could stop creating more veterans and victims of war."
Kenneth E. Mayers Major USMCR (Ret'd) Veterans for Peace, Santa Fe Chapter

"A very moving, rare documentary...[The Friendship Village] is a real gem of a veterans story that should be widely circulated among veterans and learned by other American people. I recommend it highly."
John H. Kim, President, Veterans for Peace, NYC Chapter

"Michelle Mason does a wonderful job of telling this terribly tragic story in a touching and inspirational way. She employs archival footage, interviews with veterans, and modern footage from Friendship Village to great effect...highly recommended to those interested in modern Southeast Asian history, in peace and war issues, in the effects of Agent Orange, and in the art of documentary film making, and to those libraries who serve them."
Paul Moeller, Educational Media Reviews Online

"A powerful film that reveals a legacy of the Vietnam War that few Americans are aware of...Seeing this film will help people recognize that this war is not over and that the US needs to play a role in resolving the question of what has caused the many birth defects among the chidren of Vietnam."
Stephen Lester, Science Director, Center for Health, Environment and Justice

"Few viewers will be unmoved by this story...The program methodically reviews our country's increasing involvement in Vietnam's struggles for independence, and unemotionally illustrates the military might--including the use of Agent Orange...An excellent video on an important topic..."
Dwain Thomas, School Library Journal

"Profiling a remarkable place and man...the film's message is ultimately one of tempered hope as it illustrates how international cooperation can help heal old wounds...while also tackling new ones...Smartly written and shot, this inspirational documentary is recommended."
Video Librarian

"Powerful...a concrete reminder that transformation and reconciliation are possible, even among enemies."
Sojourners Magazine

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Links The filmmaker's web site The Vietnam Friendship Village Project's web site For more information about Agent Orange

Awards and Festivals
Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary, & Best Director, New York International Independent Film and Video Festival
Silver Hugo, Chicago International Television Awards
Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Columbine Award, Moondance International Film Festival
Runner-Up in Category, EarthVision Environmental Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival, Stanford
Vermont International Film Festival
MountainFilm, Telluride
Santa Fe Film Festival
Amnesty International Film Festival, Vancouver
Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
World Community Film Festival
Female Eye Film Festival
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
Common Ground Film Festival
Emotion Pictures Festival, Greece

American Studies
Asian Studies
Conflict Resolution
Human Rights
International Studies
Multicultural Studies
Social Justice
War and Peace

Related Titles

The terrible aftermath of dropping cluster bombs during the secret air war in Laos and the international campaign to ban them.

In Whose Interest?
A revealing critique of US foreign policy since World War II.

Rising Above
Vietnamese women build on experiences of war.

My Hanoi
Tour of rapidly urbanizing Hanoi, and the effect on citizens and culture.

A Dream In Hanoi
Two theater companies, one American, one Vietnamese, collaborate to produce A Midsummer Night's Dream in Hanoi.

Whose Home on the Range?
The peace process between environmentalists, ranchers, and the U.S. Forest Service in the toughest county in the West.

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