Journey from the Fall

Director: Ham Tran
Screenwriters: Ham Tran

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Journey from the Fall actually follows two journeys, both of which begin as Vietnam's civil war ends. On the day Saigon falls, Long Nguyen and his wife, Mai, reluctantly part ways. Long stays in the city to fight but insists that Mai flee the country with their young son. Long is captured and sent to a series of reeducation camps, where he endures hard labor, beatings, and solitary confinement in a tiny metal shed. Meanwhile, unsure of her husband's fate, Mai boards a fishing boat with her mother-in-law and son. Hoping to reach America, they face a dangerous sea journey, starvation, and pirates. Years later, when Long (who believes his family is dead) is smuggled a letter from them, he seizes a chance to escape. And so begins his journey.

Vietnamese American Ham Tran's beautifully photographed drama uses one family's story to articulate the experiences of many Vietnamese refugees. Splitting the narrative as he does (Mai's and Long's stories actually take place several years apart), Tran creates an oddly powerful emotional connection that belies their distance. Coupled with fine performances, gripping tension, and a lovely relationship among Mai, her son, and her mother-in-law as they struggle in America, Journey from the Fall is an accomplished first feature that gives voice to an untold story.

— John Nein

Screening Details

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