Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Retracing Saigon - Episode 1 - Mom and Dad

When Tam Thi Tang died in 2007, she left behind 13 children, 9 in-laws, 18 grandchildren and one emaciated, abandoned husband. As I revisited my grandfather six months after my grandmother died, I found a man in his seventies who repeatedly said he was waiting to pass away. And he finally did earlier this month.

The head of a family dies and its members fumble for reasons to gather. The nucleus family loses its core and it becomes easier to find excuses to stay in California, Chicago, Frankfurt, Marseille or countless other places where my family members have settled. But I suppose the remaining glue keeping them together are the memories they shared. So I made it my task to gather those.

I've mostly finished reporting on my family history and will be able to spend the weekends of 2011 putting together a video-driven flash piece. I've been working on this over the past three years and have finally gathered enough footage, information and personal accounts to start smaller video segments. With this project, I hope to explore how historical events intersect with individual lives.

On a purely selfish level it's a way of exploring identity -- mostly my own. Besides, this one turned out to be a great Christmas present for my parents: