“Enforcing the Silence” explores silence and loss in the tragic story of a young community worker who may have been murdered for expressing his political beliefs.
Lam Duong founded the Vietnamese Youth Development Center in San Francisco and published a liberal newspaper that reprinted stories from communist Vietnam following the Vietnam War. On July 21, 1981, the 27-year-old was shot dead outside his apartment in broad daylight. Local police have never convicted anyone in the killing, so the motive remains unknown. But within days of Lam’s murder, news spread that a shadowy, anti-communist group had claimed responsibility, sending a chilling message to Vietnamese refugees everywhere: stay in line with your political views or risk death. Between 1982 and 1990, five more Vietnamese Americans – four of them journalists – were violently killed, many believe for political reasons. Vietnamese journalists are the largest group of immigrant journalists murdered on U.S. soil, claiming five lives out of the ten immigrant journalists that have been killed in America since 1981. All the Vietnamese murders were linked to a terrorist group in the Vietnamese American community, but police and federal officials have yet to solve any of the cases, including Lam’s.
Thirty years later, new filmmaker Tony Nguyen unlocks the mystery of Lam Duong’s life and death, and uncovers truths that Vietnamese Americans have never publicly explored. For the first time on film, Lam’s loved ones, federal investigators, and present-day journalists speak out about their experiences and reveal the risks that Vietnamese Americans have faced for exercising their first amendment rights in the U.S.
Mixing personal interviews with startling historical and present-day footage, ENFORCING THE SILENCE provides a disturbing in-depth look at a war-torn community that continues to struggle to find its place in a democratic society. As the U.S. finds itself entrenched in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, this film offers fresh insight into the long-term costs of war.
Catch this film at the 2011 NY Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF). For more screening, check out their site here.
Enforcing the Silence Trailer