This Channel is dedicated to the films of documentary film maker Mel Halbach. I am a friend of Mels. He's busy right now with a new film about his time serving on a Nuclear Submarine in the 1970's. I've decided that some of his other films need to be out there available for people to watch. I don't own the rights to these films. Mel's a great guy and I'm sure he won't mind, but let's keep it hush hush from him for a while. I want to surprise him someday. His website is worldstoriesfilm.com
The Long Haired Warriors (59:50)
Women have a long and storied tradition of fierce warriorship. Vietnamese women fought the French, South Vietnamese Regular Army and American troops in the decades following World War II. In a country of ancient art and religion, of poetry and song, and of resplendent physical beauty, these women suffered the horrors of war as active combatants. Some experienced many life shattering years of torture and imprisonment. Ultimately, all shared in victory in defense of their homes and country. But, as is always the case in war, their victory is not without its contradictions, losses, and sorrows. This is the story told by Mel Halbach in his film The Long-haired Warriors.
Halbach began his Vietnam odyssey in 1991 and seven years and five trips to Vietnam later, after the hardships and frustrations of navigating seas of bureaucratic red tape and oceans of green tea, Mel gives these rich portraits of women aged in war, long suffering and kind.
We meet Thieu Thi Tan, who likes to be called "Dany," sent to the infamous Tiger cages of Con Dao Island in 1968. She was only 15. Dany and her older sister Tao were imprisoned for attempting to bomb a police station. In the film we see Dany return to Con Dao where standing before a cell with its concrete slab bed and leg irons, with its open sewer latrine, its cramped darkness and stifling heat, she relates the wretched details of her life as a prisoner. We get some insight into the price she and her comrades paid. We comprehend her intense involvement in the Vietnamese culture of female warriorship. Also we learn about the troubling and ambiguous roll the U.S. government played in her captivity.
Mrs. Le Hong Quan was the leader of 100 women commandos during the American war. In a powerfully moving scene she relates, through tears and her intensely present memories of the experience, how she lost her arm in battle and was captured, tortured and interrogated.
The Long-haired Warriors introduces us to women who were peasant farmers, intellectuals, Buddhist nuns, and members of the then aristocratic classes before they were moved to armed revolution. Many now openly reflect on both their hopes and fears for the future as they experience the impact of global capitalism and consumerism on Vietnamese culture, wondering aloud whether another revolution may someday be necessary.