Director: Richard Bouchareb
Dust of Life begins where many accounts of Vietnam end-after the fall of Saigon. In 1975 when the Communist army defeated the South Vietnamese forces, American soldiers made a quick exit leaving behind thousands of Amerasian children. Regarding their Western blood as problematic, the Communist government subsequently launched a 're-education program' for these abandoned children. Dust of Life centres on Son, the child of an African-American soldier and a Vietnamese woman who is scooped off the streets of Saigon and along with orphans, pickpockets and other petty thieves transported to a political indoctrination camp. The young prisoners are forced to work clearing land, their thoughts of escape stifled by 'Fanta Hill' -the nearby cemetery named for the brand of soda bottles marking the graves of those who attempted flight. Made by acclaimed Algerian-French director Rachid Bouchareb (Cheb), Dust of Life is a film of exquisite visual power-both in its use of wide-lens cinematography to capture the lush jungles of Vietnam, and in the intimacy it creates with its young characters. Based on Duyen Ahn's novel Fanta Hill, the film is a compelling exploration of the aftermath of the Vietnam war.