Before The Interview premiere at downtown L.A.’s Ace Hotel theatre, I dropped by a cocktail party for Rory Kennedy‘s Last Days in Vietnam at the Chateau Marmont. I spoke briefly to Rory and her husband Mark Bailey, who co-wrote this excellent doc. My sense is that the Best Feature Documentary race has boiled down to a Last Days in Vietnam vs. Citizenfour stand-off. It’s also hit me that these docs are coming from similar places, and yet hold different views about this country. Both are about the defiance of rules for the sake of a greater good, and both focus on callous, ignoble behavior on the part of senior U.S. officials. Vietnam is about Americans stationed in Vietnam ignoring orders not to assist South Vietnamese to evacuate prior to the April 1975 takeover of Saigon by the North Vietnamese and in so doing putting their careers in jeopardy. Citizenfour is about Edward Snowden heroically or self-sacrificingly ignoring the law in order to tell his countrymen and the world about the extent of NSA monitoring of U.S. citizens, which has led to an exiled life in Russia. The difference is that Vietnam spreads the heroism around — it’s about a small community of people who stood up and did the right, risky thing. In a sense it exudes a somewhat more positive view of human nature.
Last Days in Vietnam director-producer Rory Kennedy, husband and cowriter Mark Bailey during last night’s Chateau Marmont gathering.