Chau, Beyond the Lines is a 2016 Oscar nominated short film about an aspiring artist growing up in a village for victims of Agent Orange. Via Short of the Week:
With the stakes set so high, Chau’s perseverance and pluck is astonishing to witness and a major source of the film’s appeal. It is also a credit to director Courtney Marsh, and the serendipitous magic of the documentary film process. In a normal profile doc, you know what you’re going to get story-wise. It’s usually retrospective, and relies on interviews to catch viewers up on a journey that is already well underway. That was not the case with this film. Marsh in 2007 was an undergrad at UCLA, and, equipped with a good friend who was Vietnamese, naively decided to embark on a feature film documentary about Vietnamese street children. A few small grants later, she was on the ground in the country searching for her story.
In a piece published on Aljazeera, Marsh describes the origin of the very different film that came to be. “Because we had to get permission from the government to legally shoot in Vietnam, word got around, and a Vietnamese television producer met us at our hotel. He thought our subject matter was fine, but trite, so he offered to take us to a “peace village” tucked away in the back of a maternity hospital. This peace village was Lang Hoa Binh: a care centre for kids disabled by the chemical Agent Orange.”