BY MELANIE WADE –
The University of Arkansas Rich Mountain will host a pre-screening of one of the most highly anticipated documentaries in recent years. Directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 18-hour epic documentary, The Vietnam War, has already drawn critical acclaim from other screenings across the country, and the directors hope to bring knowledge of the event from all sides and healing to those whom it most closely affected.
The documentary prescreening will be held at UA-Rich Mountain on Monday, September 11, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. in the Ouachita Center. The screening is open to the public with no admission charge.
It took more than a decade for Burns and Novick to piece together the massive project that includes interviews with veterans, VietCong guerrilla fighters, deserters, mothers, students, and many more. PBS (Public Broadcasting System) will air the full 18-hour series this fall, with the premier episode launching on September 17, 2017 at 7 p.m. They describe it as a series that, “explores the human dimensions of the war through revelatory testimony of nearly 80 witnesses from all sides,” and includes rarely seen and digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe.”
In a recent interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Burns said, “Everything exists in our minds in preconception and conventional wisdom and something that’s ultimately very, very superficial,” he said. “And then you get involved in a project like this and you are daily humiliated by the fact that you know nothing. You kind of have to forget everything, take the Etch A Sketch and turn it upside down and shake it and say, ‘OK, now let’s rebuild this.’ In essence, that’s what our film is.”
For the airing of the full film series, The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN, the local PBS channel) is seeking stories from people who experienced Vietnam War events. This event is in conjunction with the local initiative, AETN Salutes Arkansas Vietnam Veterans, and the premiere of The Vietnam War.
Stories with videos, photographs or a written account may be submitted through social media outlets with #VietnamStoriesPBS or the “Share Your Story” tool at aetn.org/thevietnamwar. Stories must include the name of the storyteller, who they are, such as a veteran or a student, and their location.
AETN also suggests that veterans consider submitting stories to The Library of Congress Veterans History Project, which collects and preserves personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
The project provides a field kit to collect the stories and complete submission guidelines at loc.gov/vets.
To learn more of the pre-screening at UA-Rich Mountain, contact them at 479-394-7622.