Separated at the end of the Vietnam war, an "Americanized" woman and her Vietnamese mother are reunited after 22 years.
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mai Thi Kim ...
Herself
Heidi Neville-Bub ...
Herself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Tom Miller ...
Himself
Tran Tuong Nhu ...
Herself
Mabel Neville ...
Herself
Don Neville ...
Himself
Royce Hughes ...
Herself
Wanda Hamlett ...
Herself
John Bub ...
Himself
Do Huu Vinh ...
Himself
Do Trong Tinh ...
Himself
Do Thi Thu Hien ...
Herself
Do Thi Hong Lien ...
Herself
Dinh Dung ...
Himself
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Storyline

In 1975, as the Vietnam War was ending, thousands of orphans and Amerasian children were brought to the United States as part of "Operation Babylift." Daughter from Danang tells the dramatic story of one of these children, Heidi Bub (a.k.a. Mai Thi Hiep), and her Vietnamese mother, Mai Thi Kim, separated at the war's end and reunited 22 years later. Heidi, now living in Tennessee - a married woman with kids - had always dreamt of a joyful reunion. When she ventures to Vietnam to meet her mother, she unknowingly embarks on an emotional pilgrimage that spans decades and distance. Unlike most reunion stories that climax with a cliché happy ending, Daughter from Danang is a real-life drama. Journeying from the Vietnam War to Pulaski, Tennessee and back to Vietnam, Daughter from Danang tensely unfolds as cultural differences and the years of separation take their toll in a riveting film about longing and the personal legacy of war. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | War

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Details

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Release Date:

11 January 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I kori apo to Danang  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[last line]
Heidi Neville-Bub: I guess I have closed the door on them... But I didn't lock the door. It's closed but not locked
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User Reviews

Emotionally powerful and compelling
26 May 2004 | by (Sacramento, CA) – See all my reviews

This documentary film, Daughter From Danang (DFD), is absolutely incredible.

Not that the film-making is anything spectacular, it is the content that is so emotionally powerful and compelling. I would suggest or request that you see DFD first, then come back and read the reviews, because the only way to give a good review is to give away what makes it so good.

There have many reviews that are very harsh saying Heidi is selfish or did not understand Vietnamese culture and so acted atrociously. I would say that these reviewers have only skimmed the surface of the DFD and not realized or thought about the root causes of Heidi's actions and thoughts. And that would be my only criticism about DFD is that that there was additional information that could have been given to the viewer to understand Heidi and then make a better informed judgment concerning her choices. The producers have a website

that gives more insight into Heidi's whole story and more of her thoughts about the reunion with her mother. But I think DFD does give enough clues for the viewer to understand Heidi's reactions.

After 22 years of separation she learns that her mother is alive and wants to meet her. Four months later and only one month after finalizing plans, she goes to Vietnam. In hindsight she says that she should have probably waited longer to let everything settle in emotionally and do some research about Vietnamese culture and society. But after not knowing about her past for so long she is too excited to wait and wants to be reunited with her mother as soon as possible. The first few days seem to go well as she gets to know her family and extended family and where she grew up. But she then starts to get homesick and misses her two daughters. Her mother wants to be with her 24 hours a day, even sleeping in the same room with her, which starts to suffocate Heidi. She thinks about going home a few days early. I think this would be a normal reaction for any American with our tradition of personal space and privacy. Also with the incredible emotions of reuniting with her family she needed some time relax and reflect on everything that had happened. She is persuaded to stay the last few days by her companion T.T. Nhu even though she was leaving to visit relatives in Hanoi. The last few days are hard for Heidi from the effect of culture shock and being overwhelmed by all the emotions. Which leads to her breakdown.

The most telling thing about Heidi is her saying before she left for Vietnam, 'I have always wanted to have somebody love me unconditionally.' Because of the way she grew up I think that is her main reason for going to see her mother and family. She wants to reconnect with her past that has been missing for so long. Her mother undoubtedly wants to reconnect with her also, but not just because she is her daughter, she sees Heidi as her daughter and the family's savoir. Heidi is going to help them from the poverty that they have endured for so long. After the many requests for money and the formal request from her brother to take on the responsibility of taking care of her mother, it all hits her at once. She only came to meet and get know her family. And now after finding out her mother was alive only four months previously, having met her and her family a few days before, still reeling from all of events and emotions of the last few days, being alone, isolated and homesick, she can't articulate and express her feelings to her family so she just shuts down. Her dream of unconditional love from her mother has been compromised by the requests for money and filial responsibility.

Months after the trip she still cannot come to terms with all of her feelings. I think she wants to tell her husband and for him to understand what she went through, but is unable to open up and relive the pain all over again so soon after it happened. Even two years later she is still having problems and has not written her mother. The continued requests for money from her family do not help also. I think the pain is so deep from the perceived abandonment of her birth mother, real abandonment from her adopted mother, and the 22 years of separation, it has made the pain deeply imbedded and it cannot be put aside in a matter of days, weeks or even years, it has to be worked through. I think time is the only thing that will heal Heidi's pain and it will heal as Heidi comes to terms with her life and if she gets to know her family in Danang.

How could all of this been avoided? I think that both Heidi and her family in Danang needed to learn about each other's culture. Heidi needed to know that her family would love her, but would also see her a benefactor and would not be shy about asking for help. The family in Danang should have been told that first Heidi wanted to meet her family, get to know them and establish a relationship before going to the next level. I hope the damage is not too great that this can be achieved.

I wish Heidi and her family the best, and her family in Danang also.


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