The 71-minute documentary Indochina, Traces of A Mother by Beninese filmmaker Idrissou Mora-Kpai, follows Afro-Vietnamese orphan decendants, now in their 50’s, of Vietnamese mothers and West African fathers – Senegalese riflemen or tirailleurs sénégalais – who were recruited by the French during the French Indochina War, which took place in southeast Asia’s French colony from December 19, 1946 and which lasted until August 1, 1954.
Mora-Kpai helmed his first documentary Si-Gueriki, la reine-mère in 2002, which followed the filmmaker to his return to Benin and his family after a 10-year absence. In 2004, he directed the documentary Deuxieme Paris, an environmental racism case study set in a uranium mining town in the Sahara desert of Niger.
Here’s the synopsis for Indochina:
Through the story of Christophe, a 58-year-old Afro-Vietnamese man, the film reveals the little known history of African colonial soldiers enlisted to fight for the French in Indochina. Christophe was one of seven Afro-Vietnamese orphans adopted by one of those soldiers when he returned to Benin after the war. The film explores the long lasting impact of bringing together two populations who previously had no ties and sheds light on a frequent practice within colonial history, that of using one colonized people to repress the independence claims of another colonized people.
Heartbreaking in so many levels. These Senegalese men, oppressed by the French, were brought to Vietnam to fight a war which they had no part of, and which wasn’t theirs to begin with.
Take a look at the trailer below: