Green Dragon

Director: Timothy Linh Bui
Screenwriters: Timothy Linh Bui, Tony Bui

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


It should not be surprising that another superb melodrama has been created by the Bui brothers, in this case, written and directed by Timothy Linh Bui. (His brother Tony, who wrote and directed the Grand Jury Award-winning Three Seasons, produced and cowrote the story for this film.) It really is too much to expect that the spectacular craft, striking storytelling, and intense emotion generated by their first work could be repeated. However, it's a pleasure to confirm it has been, although this does not suggest that the two films are similar or in any way derivative of each other. What they share is a unique aesthetic, one that evokes a nostalgic beauty and reaffirms an incredibly lush and vivid visual sensibility. These qualities carry their storytelling into a magical realm.

Green Dragon tells the tale of the first wave of Vietnamese refugees who were housed in camps across the southwestern deserts of the United States in 1975. It is really an amalgamation of different stories: of children watching and waiting for their mother to join them; of a camp cook, who paints in his spare time and befriends one young boy; of an ex-translator for the army, who, because of his bilingual skills, assumes a leadership role while he yearns for a lost love; and of the staff sergeant who rules over the camp, speaking through bullhorns and learning about humanity. With restraint and an artist's touch, Timothy Bui speaks volumes with silence and images. He has created memories that perhaps once were his own but will now remain with everyone who sees this film.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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