Category: Vietnamese International Film Festival


Adoptees and Babylift volunteers with Tammy Nguyen Lee (Producer/Director) and George Lee (Executive Producer) at the world premiere of "Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam."
Adoptees and Babylift volunteers with Tammy Nguyen Lee (Producer Director) and George Lee (Executive Producer) at the world premiere of "Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam."


Documentary Wins the Coveted VIFF Audience Choice Award

DALLAS, TX, April 15, 2009 – On Friday, April 3, 2009 ATG Against the Grain Productions premiered Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam at the Vietnamese International Film Festival (VIFF) in Santa Ana, California to a packed theatre at the Bowers Museum.  The feature documentary, described as “amazing…compelling and hard hitting” by, details the 1975 United States airlift of over 2,500 Vietnamese orphans during the tumultuous time leading up to the Fall of Saigon. The film was recently given the coveted Audience Choice Award over other highly regarded films.

Producer/Director Tammy Nguyen Lee says:  “Being invited to join the growing Vietnamese American artist community and have our world premiere at VIFF was a huge honor.  With the adoptees and Babylift volunteers in attendance, it was truly a special and unique evening. We are so grateful for the warm reception we received at VIFF and even more thrilled to receive the Audience Choice Award. It means a lot to all of us, especially screening among a group of so many wonderful films, and knowing that this was the film that touched peoples’ hearts.”

Several cast members were delighted with the success of the premiere. Bert Ballard, an adoptee who flew in from Waterloo, Ontario, says, “I am very excited that Ms. Lee’s film was selected for the VIFF Audience Choice Award.  This selection represents the importance of Operation Babylift and the experiences of adopted Vietnamese persons to the Vietnamese American community. I look forward to future opportunities where this film can open up dialogue and share with others the experiences of adopted persons of Operation Babylift.”

Lieutenant Commander and adoptee Mark Slavik attended the screening from Seattle, Washington and said, “Watching this documentary brought back emotions and memories of a time that I almost forgot.  Growing up I just didn’t have a good understanding or maturity to acknowledge my past.  Again, this documentary… really helped me to reconnect with my past.  This is a truly positive experience for me and it is a great honor to be a part of this history.”

Los Angeles based adoptee and cast member DC Wolfe adds, “It is wonderful to know that there is still an interest in real stories that present all aspects of life–struggles, joy, heartache and support. Since being involved with the film, I have discovered a kinship in fellow adoptees. I commend VIFF for believing in the film and respect Tammy for her hard work and believing in our journey.”

Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam tells the significant yet untold story of the $2 million dollar US initiative that airlifted over 2,500 Vietnamese orphans out of a war-torn country to protect them from the impending threat of the Communist regime.  These adoptees grew up facing unique challenges in America, including prejudice overshadowed by a controversial war and cultural identity crisis.  Featuring compelling and insightful interviews of the volunteers, parents, and organizations directly involved, the movie takes a contemporary look at Babylift and its relevance to international adoption today.  The feature documentary was a passionate team effort that took over 4 years to produce and is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. For more information, please visit

Dallas based non profit ATG Against the Grain Productions was formed to promote Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects, while also raising funds for international orphanages.  For more information, please visit

"Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam" World Premiere at VIFF

After four long years, we are so happy to announce that “Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam” is finished and will world premiere at the Vietnamese International Film Festival at 7:30pm Friday, April 3rd at the beautiful Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, CA. There will be a Q&A and reception afterwards.  We hope that you can make it if you’re in the neighborhood. Tickets are available for $8 at the VIFF website!

Below is an article from The Orange County Register promoting the festival:


Vietnamese film festival returns to O.C.

More than 60 movies from seven countries on tap April 2-5 and 9-12.

The Orange County Register
The fourth Vietnamese International Film Festival gets under way Thursday with a movie about a war-torn family that finds redemption through rugby.
“Footy Legends,” a Vietnamese Australian movie directed by Khoa Do and starring Anh Do, will screen at Edwards University 6 in Irvine and kick off the biennial film festival, which runs April 2-5 and 9-12 in Irvine and Los Angeles.
More than 60 films are scheduled for the growing fest, called “ViFF” by organizers and participants. This year’s theme is “Into View,” and the emerging and established filmmakers in the program hail from seven different countries.
“It’s a very broad theme, actually,” said Ysa Le, co-director of the film fest, which started in October 2003. “We were hoping we’d get films to engage the audience. Indeed, the films will bring out a lot of issues. A lot of the films are documentaries this year.”
After opening night, most screenings will take place at UC Irvine and UCLA. For the first time, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana will serve as a ViFF venue, hosting a free high school day on April 3 and a free senior citizens day on April 10.
Other highlights include: the world premiere April 3 of “Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam” at the Bowers, with some adoptees present; the world premiere April 4 of “Sad Fish,” directed by Le-Van Kiet (“Dust of Life”) and starring Orange County resident Kieu Chinh (“The Joy Luck Club,” “Journey From the Fall”) and Long Nguyen (also from “Journey From the Fall”).
On April 11, ViFF will present a Spotlight Award to actor and former Orange County resident Dustin Nguyen, best known for playing Officer Harry Ioki in the TV series “21 Jump Street.” Recently, Nguyen played a villain in “The Rebel,” the opening film of the 2007 Vietnamese International Film Festival. Following the award ceremony, ViFF will screen 2005’s “Little Fish,” starring Nguyen, Cate Blanchett, Sam Neil and Hugo Weaving.
“All About Dad,” written and directed by Mark Tran, will close the festival on April 12.
This year, there will be four free panel discussions: “Crossing Boundaries: Female Filmmakers and Questions of Genre and Gender” on April 5; “Combating Human Trafficking: How Can You Help?” on April 5; “Rebuilding the Community Post-Katrina” on April 11; and “Reel to Real: International Networks” on April 12.
ViFF is presented by two nonprofit organizations – the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association and UCLA’s Vietnamese Language and Culture. The festival has become one of the nation’s largest gatherings for Vietnamese cinema, a launching pad for aspiring filmmakers, as well as a popular social event for local Vietnamese Americans.
Film is “a way to share the stories with a lot of people,” Le said. “Nowadays, technology is very effective. One of the best ways to tell our story is through this art.”
About 4,000 people attended the festival in 2007, and organizers are hoping to match or exceed that number this year. Tickets are $8 general, $6 for seniors and students. Special events cost more.
For more information, call 714-893-6145 or visit