By Mukul Khurana
San Diego Asian Film Festival 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Obviously, FINISHING THE GAME (directed by Justin Lin) was going to be the big draw for opening night--it was, after all, the designated Opening Night Film (not to mention the fact that MC Hammer attended the screening as he is in the cast). However, for my money, BOLINAO 52 (directed by Duc Nguyen) should have had that honor. A hard-hitting film about the Vietnamese boat people--in this case, a 110 people fled from Vietnam in 1988. Only 52 survived the journey. This the ultimate reality show. This film showed what mental and physical endurance really means. When there is nothing left but hope and a strong belief in faith--when food and water are at stake.
Survival is the main theme in this compelling drama. It is such a raw and emotional story that production values don't matter, but they were still good. "Making it to America" was all that these poor people wanted. But, the U.S.S. Dubuque didn't consider this human cargo worthy of respecting International Naval laws. The captain was more fixated on going to war. As a result, during the 37 days at sea, the refugees ran out of food and water. Their boat's engine stopped working. At some point, they had to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. "Did it taste good?" was the question they were asked of their ordeal.
And yet, it is also a story of forgiveness. As it was quoted in the movie, "Healing is not to hang on to our wounds but to move on gracefully." The captain was court-martialed. Incredibly, the refugees asked for him to be pardoned. Everyone should have to watch this film about the enduring human spirit--how ordinary people become heroes in their own way.