Hanoi Spring: Two Journeys in War and Peace, 1968-2015

This is the tale of two journeys to Hanoi made by an American journalist at both ends of a long life -- as a young man in 1968 at the height of a decade-long war between a poor, undeveloped Asian nation and the world's leading superpower; and half a century later, as Vietnam enters the on-ramp to a turbo-charged global economy. Ironies abound. While the United States was being torn apart by the moral and strategic contradictions of the Vietnam war, Hanoi, epicenter of resistance to American domination, experienced a fleeting season of tranquility, its own "Hanoi Spring." Captured in rare black-and-white photographs of everyday life in a city and country under siege, this film offers a window into a time and place until now largely invisible even to its own people. Half a century later, in 2015, the filmmaker returned to Hanoi to find that the Vietnamese have largely let go of the past in order to embrace a more promising future. A war that killed three million of their countrymen only strengthened their will to live and finally to thrive. Refusing to define themselves as victims, Hanoi's younger generations are free at last to pursue their dreams wherever they may take them.

  • Mark Sommer
    Wild Art, Wild Hearts: The Albany Bulb; Muralismo!, Seahenge; Wild Art, Wild Hearts; Surprised By Love; and several more
  • Mark Sommer
    Same as above
  • Mark Sommer
    Same as above
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    52 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    2,450 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Viet Nam
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
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  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mark Sommer

Mark Sommer is a solo filmmaker, author, explorer and former award-winning, internationally syndicated radio host and columnist. He founded and for two decades directed the Mainstream Media Project for two decades, placing innovative and better informed voices on the airwaves on both public and commercial radio. As host and executive producer of the nationally syndicated weekly radio program "A World of Possibilities," he interviewed leading social innovators addressing urgent national and global challenges. In addition to filmmaking, he is currently launching a podcast called "True Wealth" about the many experiences and relationships that bring lasting fulfillment and require little or no money, power or prestige to achieve.

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Director Statement

As a young journalist just out of college and working in the nation's capital during the peak of Sixties activism, I witnessed and participated in many of the key milestones of that tumultuous era, from the siege of the Pentagon in October 1967 to the conflagrations following the assassination of Martin Luther King and the police riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. My secret trip to Hanoi, made when only a handful of Americans had yet crossed into enemy territory, shaped my subsequent life with a remarkable riddle posed by my Vietnamese guide -- "go home and learn to love your own people." It took me half a century to learn how. My return to Hanoi 47 years later enabled me to complete that journey. This film traces my pilgrimage.