in-vietnam

About the Film

A Permanent Mark: Agent Orange in America and Vietnam is a feature-length documentary directed by Holly Million that integrates the story of Americans exposed to Agent Orange with the story of Vietnamese people also exposed to the herbicide.

Millions of people were affected by decisions made by the U.S. government and key industrial players to manufacture and use Agent Orange as a tool of the Vietnam War. Those affected were left with little recourse to prove the cause of their injuries or to receive just compensation for them. Forty years later, Americans and Vietnamese alike are still wrestling with the results of their exposure, mostly with little government or public support. Largely, the public does not know this history, or they believe that Agent Orange is only a chapter in our country’s past, not something that continues to haunt living Americans — as well as Vietnamese citizens — even today. It is time to raise public awareness of the ongoing struggles of American veterans who are sick and dying because of their service to our country and their exposure to a toxic herbicide during that service. It is also time to show the public the agonizing struggles of the Vietnamese people, whose exposure was orders of magnitude greater. And it is time for the public to have a direct dialogue with government and industry about how we should use science and technology going forward. A Permanent Mark will be a tool to stimulate awareness, dialogue, and action around these issues.

The crew of A Permanent Mark and our main American interview subjects traveled to Vietnam to go back to the source of the veterans’ exposure to Agent Orange. We touched down in Ho Chi Minh City, visited the Mekong Delta, flew to the Central Highlands city of Pleiku, flew on to DaNang, drove to the ancient city of Hoi An and then to Quang Ngai City, wove our way into the mountains of Dong Ha (where my stepfather Bob served), and at last flew to Hanoi. Along the way, we interviewed many Vietnamese experts on Agent Orange, met Vietnamese veterans affected by the herbicide, played with children and met their families, and came to love Vietnam. The beautiful country of Vietnam bears few obvious scars from the war or from the spraying of Agent Orange from 1962 to 1970. Hotspots remain, but for the most part the jungles, forests, and fields have recovered. People like Mr. Tiger and his son, whom we interviewed in the Mekong Delta, have created nurseries growing plants and trees to help the local environment recover and thrive. It’s the people of Vietnam who bear the scars of Agent Orange. We saw evidence of cancer, birth defects, and neurological disorders that are very suspicious and may have their origin in dioxin contamination.

A Permanent Mark is now being completed. Stay tuned for more details.