Ghost Tape #10

Created by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, "Ghost Tape #10" was one of many audio tapes engineered to psychologically intimidate and demoralize the North Vietnamese Army through its depiction of the Buddhist afterlife. By re-examining this weaponization of religious belief, reflections on this artifact of American propaganda lead to meditations on relationships between the living and the dead, asking what truths, if any, still echo within this recording.

  • Sean David Christensen
  • Sean David Christensen
  • Sean David Christensen
  • Sean David Christensen
  • Jamie Maxtone-Graham
  • Thiên Chip
    Assistant Camera
  • Sean David Christensen
  • Ricky Lee Berger
    Sound Editing & Mixing
    Dani, Maggie Dave - I'm Not Ready
  • Ricky Lee Berger
    Music & Sound Design
    Dani, Maggie Dave - I'm Not Ready
  • Case Mastering
    Maggie Dave - I'm Not Ready
  • Jedadiah Cracco
    Scenic Artist - Figurines
  • Sean David Christensen
    The Duel
  • Ca Dao "Cookie" Duong
    Vietnamese Translation & Transcription
  • Thành Hoa Nguyễn
    Field Guides & Interpreters
  • Pham Thu Hang
    Field Guides & Interpreters
  • Janet Hoskins
    Faculty Advisor
  • Michael Bodie
    USC MVA Production Faculty
  • Jennifer Cool
    USC MVA Production Faculty
  • Lanita Jacobs
    USC MVA Production Faculty
  • Robert Lemelson
    USC MVA Production Faculty
  • Nancy Lutkehaus
    USC MVA Production Faculty
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Băng ghi âm ma
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Educational, Vietnam War
  • Runtime:
    28 minutes 12 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 7, 2018
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States, Viet Nam
  • Language:
    English, Vietnamese
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital video
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - University of Southern California
  • Athens International Film + Video Festival
    Athens, OH
    United States
    April 9, 2019
    World Premiere
    Alden Award
  • Columbus International Film + Animation Festival
    Columbus, OH
    United States
  • No Festival Required: Selected Shorts at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
    Scottsdale, AZ
    United States
    March 17, 2019
  • Association for Asian Studies (AAS) 2019 Film Expo
    Denver, CO
    United States
    March 22, 2019
  • XIV "Eyes and Lenses” Ethnographic Films Review
    June 10, 2019
  • Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival
    November 23, 2019
    Canadian Premiere
    Best Student Film - Honorable Mention
  • BEA On-Location: Creative Competition
    Boulder, CO
    United States
    October 11, 2019
    Student Creative Competition - Best Documentary
  • San Diego International Film Festival
    San Diego, CA
    United States
    October 19, 2019
    West Coast Premiere
  • 2020 BEA Festival of Media Arts
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    United States
    April 20, 2020
    Award of Excellence - Student Short Form Documentary
  • 15th German (Göttingen) International Ethnographic Film Festival
    May 13, 2020
  • Travelling Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival
    Various cities
    December 1, 2020
  • Department of Anthropology | San Francisco State University
    San Francisco, CA
    United States
    September 18, 2020
  • Center for Transpacific Studies | University of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    October 1, 2020
  • The Council on Southeast Asia Studies at Yale University
    New Haven, CT
    United States
    October 14, 2020
  • College of Humanities & Social Sciences and Cultural Anthropology - Virtual Southeast Asian Film Screenings - CSU Fullerton
    Fullerton, CA
    United States
    October 29, 2020
  • Center for Southeast Asian Studies - Film Series | University of Michigan
    Ann Arbor
    United States
    February 12, 2021
  • Excavated Footage, US Archives, and Alternative Historiography | Ajou University - Virtual Festival
    Korea, Republic of
    March 11, 2021
Director Biography - Sean David Christensen

Sean David Christensen is an artist who works in music & film. His work has been featured at the Hammer Museum, SXSW, San Francisco International Film Festival, and Pictoplasma Berlin. His art has been presented online with Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, SPIN, Vogue, and his experimental documentary "The Duel," based on a true story by actress Lili Taylor, was named a Vimeo Staff Pick in 2018. Amy R. Handler of Moving Pictures has called his filmmaking "Brilliant...fragile & hypnotic," and Sundance Award-winning director Jay Rosenblatt has described Christensen's short films as, "Evocative...they do what many short films fail to do, make you wish they were longer." Christensen is a graduate of the Center for Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California and lives & works in Los Angeles.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

A year ago to the day, I found myself outside Hanoi, steadying my camera upwards to cradle the silver of the moon in the center of its lens. A guest of Thắng Nghiêm Pagoda, I was documenting the Hungry Ghost Festival, traditionally celebrated by Buddhists throughout Southeast Asia during the seventh lunar month, as a time to honor the deceased. Offerings such as cigarettes and oranges gathered alongside family photographs beneath sticks of incense, their glowing tails forming columns of smoke, calling their spirits back once more to enjoy what they might've missed since leaving the physical world behind.

Had there been an IHOP nearby, I would've placed one of their Strawberry Belgian Waffles (to go) beside a framed picture of my grandmother, Marie. Towards the end of her life, only visits from her grandson rivaled the excitement of indulging in this particular breakfast treat. Luckily for her, these often came together.

As I stared up at the night sky, I prayed that whatever footage I had travelled to Vietnam to gather for my master's thesis was worth it. This shot of the moon, for example. Whenever it was at its most luminous, my mother called them "Granny Moons." After her passing, these omens kept watch over the years that followed, not all of them good. Nevertheless, whenever these moons would hang in the sky, I would outstretch my hand and clutch it like a pearl. I would then slowly bring my closed fist back into the small of my chest and breathe, when times were bad and deep breaths were hard to come by. After my first night in Vietnam, its cloak of night shrouding the miles I had left before me, I could've used any omen I could get.

I can't remember if there was a full moon the night I premiered my master's thesis at the USC School of Cinematic Arts on September 7th, but I could feel my grandmother was somewhere in the crowd. Thankfully, I was blessed with a remarkable group of guides, artists and craftspeople who helped me find my way, some of whom joined me once again in that darkened theatre. Under the mentorship of my professors who challenged me to take the right road instead of the easy one, I now look back on a year and a filmmaking journey that still feels impossible. But I kept going, even when I felt discouraged by the enormity of what I was trying to say with my camera. A voice inside my head kept saying: "Don't give up."

I never did. She always did give good advice.