The U.S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City partnered with the American Film Showcase to bring two American documentary filmmakers, Eric Neudel and Alison Gilkey, to audiences in Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho City to screen and discuss their groundbreaking documentary history of the American disability rights movement, “Lives Worth Living.”
The film, which premiered in 2011 on the United States’ Public Broadcasting Service, recounts the compelling and often untold story of the struggle of the American people with disabilities for equal rights. The film opens in the post-World War II period when the status of disabled people began to change rapidly, and concludes with the dramatic battle for the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Neudel and Gilkey screened their film and held discussions at several organizations that support Vietnamese people with disabilities, including the Deaf Culture Clubs of Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai, the NGO Disability Research and Development, and the Vietnamese government-run “Charitable Center of Training and Offering Jobs for the Handicapped.” The U.S. Consulate General also hosted a workshop for 35 local film professionals, led by the visiting U.S. filmmakers, hosted a press conference for 28 local outlets, arranged sit-down interviews with 3 national talk shows, and held a public screening at the American Center Ho Chi Minh City.
In Can Tho City in the heart of the Mekong Delta, the two filmmakers screened their film and held a screening and discussion for 40 members of the Can Tho Association of Persons with Disabilities, and for more than 600 students at a Saturday morning screening at Can Tho University – all with the cooperation and support of alumni of U.S. Government exchange programs.
Through the “Lives Worth Living” film showcase and discussion, people with disabilities in Vietnam had a rare chance to raise their voice and raise awareness of the difficulties they face, their determination to overcome obstacles, and their expectation for non-discrimination for disabled people in Vietnam. Through this cultural program, the U.S. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City illustrated support for Vietnamese efforts to remove barriers and create a world in which disabled people enjoy dignity and full inclusion.