Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Rory Kennedy is the Academy Award-nominated and Emmy® Award-winning producer whose “Last Days in Vietnam” documentary, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, has been nominated to win the Academy Award for Documentary Feature at the Oscars® in 2015.
“Last Days in Vietnam” chronicles the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon. With the clock ticking and the city under fire, American officers on the ground faced a moral dilemma: follow official policy and evacuate U.S. citizens and their dependents only, or ignore orders and save the men, women, and children they had come to value and love in their years in Vietnam. At the risk of their careers and possible court-martial, a handful of individuals took matters into their own hands. Engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations, they waged a desperate effort to evacuate as many South Vietnamese as possible.
Having produced, directed and/or written more than 30 highly acclaimed documentaries, Kennedy is recognized for films that tackle issues of human rights, mental illness, poverty, domestic abuse, political corruption and drug addiction.
Her film “American Hollow,” about the rural existence of a poor Appalachian family, attracted attention from film critics and the public in 1999. She also directed and produced the Emmy-nominated series “Pandemic: Facing AIDS,” which premiered in 2002 at the Barcelona World Aids Conference and became a five-part series on HBO.
Kennedy is also well known for her films “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” (2007), “Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House” (2008), “Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech” (2009) and “Bobby Fischer Against the World” (2011).
At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, she premiered the film “Ethel,” a feature length documentary on the life of her mother Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert F. Kennedy, which was nominated for five Emmy® awards.
In addition to her role as an independent documentary filmmaker, Kennedy is considered a masterful story teller and compelling speaker devoted to taking on the world’s most pressing social and human rights issues.
In late April, PBS will broadcast “Last Days in Vietnam” during a week of programming to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Distributed by AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, the film will air locally on WSRE at 8 p.m. on April 28. WSRE also has a free preview screening of the film planned for March 24 at the Amos Studio.