Flagler Film Fest to Host Florida Premiere of Award-Winning Vietnam Documentary
Photo credit: Unknown
Peter Sorensen, one of the film's subjects and father of filmmaker Soren Sorensen, leaning against a five-ton dump truck and smiling after the safe conclusion of a two-mile mine sweep during the fall of 1969 in South Vietnam. Sorensen remembers, "You can tell it's early in my tour because my uniform hasn't faded, I'm not sunburned, and my mustache hasn't grown in yet."
Photo credit: Peter Sorensen
Having begun his tour as a combat engineer in the fall of 1969, Peter Sorensen was reassigned to the U.S. Army's 31st Public Information Office in the spring of 1970. "I was taking pictures on and around forward fire support base Bronco where I was stationed when I encountered this infantryman, or 'grunt,'" Sorensen says. "You can see that he has two or three other envelopes in his pocket, so he had clearly been at it a while, catching up on letter-writing to family and friends." He adds, "I was moved by his intensity, and the solemnity and serenity of the scene."
Photo credit: Peter Sorensen
Peter Sorensen snapped this photograph of a heavily damaged church from the back of a truck traveling north on QL1 (Highway 1) to a forward fire support base in the fall of 1969 in South Vietnam. "I remember being struck," Sorensen recalls, "by the irony of a church being caught in the crossfire of two warring armies." Sorensen and his wife Elizabeth, mother of filmmaker Soren Sorensen, later used an image of this church a Christmas card in 1971 which thecaption, "Peace on Earth."
Photo credit: Peter Sorensen
Peter Sorensen took this photograph at the end of his tour in October of 1970 while standing in line with a group of Americal soldiers awaiting processing for return to the United States. "I was on my way home," Sorensen remembers. "The guys leaning on the railing in the background are leaving either later that day or the next day, and looking on enviously. I don't remember much of anything about this other than the fact that I was going home."
Providence, RI (January 7, 2016) – My Father’s Vietnam (79 min., USA), a new documentary film directed by Soren Sorensen, is an official selection of the 3rdAnnual Flagler Film Festival. The screening is scheduled to take place on Saturday January 16, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 55 Town Center Boulevard in Palm Coast, FL. The screening includes a Q&A with the director. For tickets and information please visit: www.flaglerfilmfestival.com/shop or call (386) 597-0260.
Featuring never-before-seen photographs and 8mm footage of the era, My Father's Vietnam is the story of three soldiers, only one of whom survived the Vietnam War.
The film, Sorensen’s first feature-length effort, won the Soldiers and Sacrifice Grand Prize at the 2015 Rhode Island International Film Festival and is nominated in the Best Documentary and Best Director (Documentary) categories at the upcoming Flagler event.
“Production was sort of a walkabout,” according to the filmmaker, “that began with several hours of conversation with my father and then led me all over the country.”
Interviews with the filmmaker’s father, Peter Sorensen, and the friends and family members of two men he served with who were killed in Vietnam in 1970, give voice to Americans who continue to silently carry the psychological burdens of a war that ended over 40 years ago. The culmination of several years of work, the conversation with the father led the son to Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington, DC.
“It can get a bit dicey,” says Soren Sorensen, “travelling to a place you’ve never visited and asking total strangers to recall their most horrible memories.”
He continues, “Not only was I asking people to have these intimate conversations with someone they’d never met, but I wanted to shoot the whole interaction as well.”
Sorensen says he’s kept in touch with the film’s participants, no longer strangers, who are very happy with the film’s recent successes.
“The film focuses on the filmmaker and his father,” says John Wilson, who served with one of the film’s subjects, Loring M. Bailey, Jr. “But it tells a much wider story of the negative effects of war on human relationships.” Wilson adds, “It is a well-crafted, personal story that I believe appeals to a wide audience, not just veterans and their families and friends.”
Peter Sorensen enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968, a year when American troop levels in Vietnam were growing seemingly at the same rate that support for the War on the homefront was shrinking. Like John Wilson, Peter Sorensen served with Bailey, who grew up in Stonington, CT.
“The film is more than the story of a father and a son,” said Peter Sorensen. “It's emblematic of the deleterious and ripple effect armed conflicts such as the Vietnam War have on entire families and ultimately the nation.”
My Father's Vietnam is a deliberately quieter and more contemplative take on a conflict synonymous with sensationalism. “It’s certainly not as rambunctious as Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket,” laughs the director. “I just hope it encourages audiences to broach the subjects of service and sacrifice with the veterans in their lives.”
The 2016 Flagler Film Festival takes place January 15-17 in Palm Coast, FL. For tickets and information please visit: www.flaglerfilmfestival.com/shop or call (386) 597-0260.
About Soren Sorensen
Soren Sorensen is a filmmaker specializing in documentary film, television, and web with an emphasis on branded content, arts and culture, oral history, and advocacy for nonprofit organizations. His clients include Families First RI, the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, Montessori Community School of Rhode Island, Part of the Oath, and The Picture of Children’s Health.Sorensen is a member of the adjunct faculty in Film Studies at Rhode Island College and Screen Studies at Clark University. He also teaches directing, sound design, and sound recording at the New York Film Academy’s summer program at Harvard University. For more information, please visit www.Soren-Sorensen.com or www.myfathersvietnamdoc.com