on the town Your film Last Days in Vietnam was well received by the critics and public alike. As you look back at that experience, what does that film mean to you?
LEFT: 3 generations ©VOGUE
BELOW: Ethel & Rory Kennedy
That film was a great experience for me and was a story that surprisingly had largely not been told. I think it’s a story that a lot of people think that they know. That was my experience going into it. And it turns out that only two of us knew much of what actually happened in the last 24 hours of that war. You don’t always come across amazing stories, and stories that have impact, and stories that help tell who we are as a nation and people, and as humans walking through the world. That story and that moment in history was so important to so many people. Because of the course of events and history of our nation, that was such revelatory moment. It was a great opportunity for me to share that with the American people. The ability to travel all across the country and attend screenings with the people and very poignantly with some Vietnamese Americans was hugely rewarding.
Out of all the films, is that film about Vietnam the one you are most proud of and would most have wanted your father to see? I have never thought about in those terms. I’m proud of all my films in different ways. I think that they all have meaningful impact. I made a short called The Fence nine years ago that I think has a lot of resonance right now. Sometimes films become more relevant as time goes on. When I think of my first feature film, American Hollow, I will always look back at that experience in Appalachia and eastern Kentucky and living with an Appalachian family down there on and off for the course of a year. That was an extraordinary experience for me. And of course Ethel was very personal. When I made a film called Ghosts of Abu Ghraib that shed light on our torture history in this country, that filled in a lot of the pieces for a lot of people to fully understand what happened there.
What is the greatest thing you learned from your mother in making the film Ethel? I will tell you that I knew a lot of the pieces of that story. I’m not sure that
SCENE | APRIL 2017