Maya Lin, who designed the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall), was among the honorees last night, February 25, at the White House National Medal of Arts ceremonies. Lin received a 2009 National Medal of the Arts for “her profound work as an architect, artist, and environmentalist,” the official citation said. “Her vision for the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial emblemizes her deep understanding of the ways in which we respond to the world around us.”
The other awards winners included Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, Rita Moreno, Jessye Norman, Elie Weisel, and Robert Caro, the historian who has written (and continues to write) a multi-volume biography of President Lyndon Johnson.
The arts and the humanities “appeal to a certain yearning that’s shared by all of us,” President Obama said before awarding the medals, “a yearning for truth and for beauty, for connection and the simple pleasure of a good story.”
Posted on February 26th 2010 in Honors and Prizes, Memorials
The Vietnamese film, 13 Ben Nuoc (Thirteen Wharves), which deals with the impact of the American war in Vietnam on the family of a veteran of that conflict, recently won the Golden Lotus for best video film at the 2009 Viet Nam Film Festival, which is hosted every three years in Hanoi by the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The movie, directed by 27-year-old Dang Thai Huyen (above), looks at the continuing health consequences among Vietnamese people as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during the war. It also took a bunch of other awards at the festival, including best director, best leading actor and actress, best supporting actor, and best cameraman.
“I’m inexperienced in making a film featuring postwar problems, but I was confident because I received great support from the producer and my staff,” Huyen said. “My productions are serious works leaving lessons for audiences. I always try my best to make them lively.”
Posted on February 24th 2010 in Feature Films
Sarah Wells, a student at Loughborough University in England, is writing a dissertation on the impact the media had on the Vietnam War. She is looking for input from American Vietnam veterans who, she says, “experienced the brutality of the war first hand,” and have opinions on how the news media represented the war and veterans.
If you’d like to help, email: email@example.com
And tell her you read about it here, at VVA’s Arts of War on the web page.
Posted on February 18th 2010 in Artistic Queries
Time goes quickly when you’re in the upper middle age brackets, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War classic, The Things They Carried. This simply but powerfully and evocatively written book of five linked short stories was an instant critical and popular success, remains in print and has been required reading for college and high school students since the late ’80s.
To commemorate the event, O’Brien, the former Vietnam War infantryman, will do a year-long series of readings and talks on the book. The first one will be held March 16 in Berkeley, California.
For more info on the book, on O’Brien and on his other work, along with a list of the events, go to the Tim O’Brien homepage, a long-time labor of love put together by Marilyn Knapp Litt.
Posted on February 11th 2010 in Book Talk
Military Times magazine staff writer C. Mark Brinkley has come up with a list of the ten best Hollywood war movies, in reaction to the fact that the American Film Institute’s list of 100 best movies has a dearth of such films.
The list, called “The Military Times top 10 American war movies that should have made the AFI’s Top 100,” includes only one Vietnam War film, Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Full Metal Jacket (featuring the amazing Lee Ermey as the drill sergeant from hell–above, center).
Here it is:
10. A Bridge Too Far (1977)
9. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
8. The Great Escape (1963)
7. Top Gun (1986)
6. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
5. The Caine Mutiny (1954)
4. Glory (1989)
3. Black Hawk Down (2001)
2. Patton (1970)
1. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Brinkley calls FMJ “the best war movie of the past 20 years, if not all time,” and notes that “it didn’t even crack the [AFI] Top 400 ballot.”
The list is on line, and is interactive, so you can add your comments. My two cents: I’d take out Top Gun and The Great Escape, and add include Platoon and Apocalypse Now, both of which did make the original AFI Top 100 list.
Posted on February 10th 2010 in Feature Films
Just heard from Lana Noone, who runs the www.Vietnambabylift.org web site. She will be coordinating the Vietnam Operation Babylift 35th Anniversary Event on Saturday, April 24, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the New Jersey Vietnam Era Educational Center in Holmdel.
Operation Babylift was the code name for the April 3-26, 1975, evacuation of thousands of orphans and other children from South Vietnam to the United States and other countries as Saigon was falling to the Vietnamese communists in the chaotic last days of the Vietnam War.
The Event includes speakers, a musical performance, an art and artifacts exhibit and a screening of Tammy Nguyen Lee’s award-winning documentary, Operation Babylift-The Lost Children of Vietnam. Several cast and crew members will be n attendance, and will take part in a Q and A and reception after the screening.
Posted on February 4th 2010 in Documentaries
Joe Galloway, the former Vietnam War correspondent, co-author (with Gen. Hal Moore) of the classic Vietnam War memoir/battle history, We Were Soldiers Once and Young , and long-time military correspondent and columnist, recently announced that he will end his weekly column, which for the last seven years was carried by the McClatchy Newspapers, and retire from the newspaper business after fifty years in the trenches.
Galloway, who received a VVA President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts at the 1999 VVA National Convention, says he will continue to write the occasional op. ed piece. That is good news because Joe Galloway (above in combat correspondent’s uniform in Vietnam), has for many years been one of the nation’s top journalists and has been one of the strongest, most supportive journalistic voices for American veterans and those in uniform.
Posted on February 4th 2010 in Journalism