Chau: Beyond the Lines, nominated as Best Short Documentary at this year’s Oscars, will screen on Al Jazeera English on 2 March 2015 at 1830 SAST .
The multi-award-winning documentary follows Chau, an aspirant Vietnamese artist who has a rare disability caused by Dioxin, the chemical found in Agent Orange.
From 1961 and 1971, the United States sprayed 20m gallons of herbicides onto the dense jungles of Vietnam in order to rid the Northern Vietnamese Army of food and cover. Among these herbicides, the most widely used was Agent Orange. Although originally said to be harmless to humans, the chemical has been associated with serious health issues. The Red Cross estimates that three million Vietnamese have been affected by Dioxin.
More than a decade after the Vietnam War, Chau’s mother, while pregnant with him, drank from a river still contaminated by the toxin and Chau became one of at least 150 000 children born with serious birth defects as a result of being exposed.
Growing up in Lang Hoa Binh Peace Camp with other children disabled by exposure to the toxin, Chau learnt to cope by finding a passion for drawing. Despite being told that his goal to become a professional artist was beyond his physical capabilities, he has defied the odds. Now in his late 20’s, Chau is a freelance artist in Ho Chi Minh, living on his own. He mainly paints with oils on cloth canvas.
Filmed over eight years, Chau: Beyond The Lines is both a heartbreaking documentary about the legacy of the ongoing impact of the Vietnam War and an inspiring tribute to the unconquerable human spirit.
For more information, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/.