Chau, Beyond the Lines by filmmaker Courtney Marsh is a documentary about Chau, an aspiring artist born with birth defects from his mother’s exposure to Agent Orange. His brother and sister are “normal” and he is the only one to suffer Agent Orange effects, which can span up to five generations. Oscar nominee for Best Documentary, Short Subject, Marsh enlightens on the residual consequences of the U.S.’s 20 million gallons worth of chemical warfare during the Vietnam War and the extremities, physical and otherwise, it has continued to greatly impact more than forty years later.
In a small peace camp for children suffering Agent Orange’s birth defects in the back of a Ho Chi Minh maternity hospital, Chau is constantly met with others’ imposed limitations. The film follows Chau’s struggles with a culture that view his artist aspirations through a lens of pragmatism more crippling than his handicaps. Despite this, he continues to paint–by mouth–astonishingly sensitive pieces unaffected by doubt. As so many artists in history, Chau contemplates beauty found in the commonplace aesthetics of everyday life–deep shadows, vivid reflections, colors of sunset.
With wonderful strides made towards his dreams, Chau can now be commissioned for artwork via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and even has a waiting list of three to four months. The biggest takeaway from Chau, Beyond the Lines is the importance of being resolute in what you want to achieve–children don’t know the difference between what’s possible and what isn’t. Marsh says about her film,
“…What I saw and began to believe was the truth of the unconquerable human spirit.”
Beyond the Lines’ calls you to Take Action, linking to War Legacies Project where you can help someone like Chau. Agent Orange still effects our American veterans as well. Beyond the Lines’ website also has a news section including information regarding the VA’s recent decision to deny benefits to veterans who were stationed on Navy ships, although evidence points to the chemical having reached ships’ distillation systems. You can also sign a petition encouraging your Senators to Take Action here.
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