LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM (Rory Kennedy, 2014)
Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway between 62nd & 63rd Sts., 212-757-2280
Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston St. between First & Second Aves., 212-330-8182
Opens Friday, September 5
To many, the fall of Saigon immediately brings to mind images of men, women, and children climbing the gate at the U.S. embassy, desperately trying to board American helicopters and escape the country as the North Vietnamese army approached. Director and producer Rory Kennedy takes viewers behind the scenes of that madness in the harrowing and revealing documentary Last Days in Vietnam. Kennedy, the youngest daughter of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, and editor Don Kleszy have woven together remarkable footage from 1970s Vietnam as more than a dozen insiders share their compelling stories, which play out like a gripping thriller with a surprise, emotionally powerful ending. At the center of it all is the late U.S. ambassador Graham Martin, a stubborn patriot who continually refused to vacate the embassy until it was almost too late. U.S. Army captain Stuart Herrington gets personal as he talks about trying to help potential refugees. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and White House press secretary Ron Nessen discuss President Gerald Ford’s attempts to persuade Congress to fund a major evacuation. CIA analyst Frank Snepp and Special Forces advisor Richard Armitage delve into the military’s plans, while South Vietnamese Navy captain Kiem Do, South Vietnamese Army lieutenant Dam Pham, and Vietnamese student Binh Pho tell what it was like from their vantage points. USS Kirk chief engineer Hugh Doyle, USS Kirk captain Paul Jacobs, and Marine pilot Gerald Berry reveal stunning stories of bravery and daring during the evacuation on land and sea and in the air. If you think this is old news, you’re mistaken, as the film offers a whole new perspective on this seminal moment in the history of two nations — and it’s nearly impossible to watch it without thinking that something similar might occur in Iraq and Afghanistan soon. An American Experience production, Last Days in Vietnam opens September 5, with Kennedy (Ethel, Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) participating in Q&As following the 6:20 screening on Friday and 11:30 and 1:50 shows on Saturday at Lincoln Plaza and after the 7:15 screening on Friday and 2:30 and 4:45 shows on Saturday at the Landmark Sunshine.