Seattle's Vietnamese Community Rallies Around A Village Called Versailles

Posted on May 10, 2010

Community Cinema recently hosted a screening of the Independent Lens film A Village Called Versailles in Seattle. The film follows a Vietnamese American community on the edge of New Orleans that fought the opening of a toxic government-imposed landfill near their homes. Find out what happened at the screening from National Community Cinema Coordinator Patrick Baroch, who organized the event.

Despite another unusually gorgeous sunny day in Seattle, we had 130 people attend our recent free Community Cinema Seattle premiere event for A Village Called Versailles. Eight people showed up just for the panel discussion. The audience loved the film finding it humorous, touching, and inspiring. There were big reactions to the story and the people in the film. The audience laughed, gasped, and were silently moved by the inspirational residents of East New Orleans' Versailles. 

We were lucky to have Trang Tu on our panel. Trang, an urban planner, is featured in the film. She spoke eloquently about Versailles and then about plans for development in Seattle and how the community can support or protest the new development in Little Saigon. Trang was integral in the development of the master plan for the rebuilding of Versailles. Repeating that message was Thao T. Nguyen of the Vietnamese Friendship Association and Neighborhood House. Thao is a young board member who gave the audience some great tips for local activism and community support. 

Our moderator, Nanette Fok, is a local activist and community organizer who drew fascinating opinions and stories from our panel. She asked how the lessons learned in A Village Called Versailles could be applied to Seattle. The audience decided that the film was an excellent catalyst topics like disaster preparedness on the community/neighborhood level. Also on the panel was Trong Pham, President of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, who spoke about the robust Vietnamese business community in Seattle. He and the Chamber sponsored a Vietnamese feast in the lobby after the event. At least 50-60 people stayed after the panel discussion and mingled and networked in the lobby. -Patrick Baroch, National Community Cinema Coordinator A Village Called Versailles airs Tuesday, May 25 at 10:00 on Independent Lens on PBS (check local listings). 


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