Phetmixay Means Fighter

PHETMIXAY MEANS FIGHTER is a short documentary film that explores Lao American refugee resiliency narratives through the life of one daughter’s father, Phoutone Phetmixay. As the central character, Phoutone’s poetic remembrances of his commitment to the Lao Royal Army, displacement from Laos, and resettlement in the United States all serve to consider the complex history of Lao Americans in the geopolitical context of U.S. invention and the socialist Lao government. The film is invested in creating a space to validate a part of one family’s history by way of mourning, healing, and building community amongst other Lao American refugee families.

  • Rita Phetmixay
  • Rita Phetmixay
  • Rita Phetmixay, Renee Tajima-Pena, Gena Hamamoto
  • Peter Phetmixay
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    War Veteran, Laos, Lao, Refugee, Escape, Communism
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 10, 2016
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Sacramento Asian Pacific Film Festival
    May 30, 2015
  • Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    May 3, 2017
Director Biography - Rita Phetmixay

Rita Phetmixay identifies as a fighter, a daughter of refugees, a sister, an intersectional feminist, and a storyteller that makes her the Lao Isaan American womxn she is today. Rita finds passion for learning more about her Lao American community in addition to spreading awareness of “Lao” and its significance in American history. Moreover, she is dedicated to creating spaces in which fellow community members center dialogue on community resilience, love, storytelling, healing and resilience. Ultimately, Rita aspires to empower communities to achieve higher education, better socioeconomic statuses, and healthier lifestyles. Her favorite things in the world include spending quality time with her first family, chosen family, developing new ways to tell her story, and eating Lao food that comforts her soul. Rita currently serves as the Program Coordinator for the Intergroup Relations and GRIT Peer Coaching Programs at UCLA.

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Director Statement

The opportunity to create my short documentary film Phetmixay Means Fighter, was given to me by the EthnoCommunications Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. Through this Center, all students received special training from highly-esteemed filmmakers Renee Tajima-Peña and Gena Hamamoto on how to film, edit, produce, and direct each of their own short documentary film projects. The purpose of these projects was to advance Asian American & Pacific Islander representation in the media that also highlight important histories, cultures, and social justice issues. For my specific project, I decided to focus my film on my father, who I felt had a unique and remarkable refugee story of survival that does not get validated through mainstream United States history or even through Asian American media. I wanted to center my own family’s history in a way that would also increase awareness of the Lao American community through visual storytelling. Overall, this project is still a process in itself and I would like to expand on this film and make it longer by including my father’s experiences in the re-education/concentration camps.