Kim Mordaunt, Director, The Rocket
At Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, I talked with some of the documentary students. A student named Aimee, with a particular interest in narrative, asked about the origins of the “isolation” of protagonist Ahlo in The Rocket. The conversation broadened to displacement from home, from one’s own history and the isolation that comes form losing one’s sense of self. I found out that Aimee was one of a number of the students that were trying to make documentaries about Iraqi war immigrants in their own community. The students made parallels to what they were exploring to Ahlo in The Rocket. It takes a lot of courage to tackle and connect to stories like this and it was obvious the students are under the inspiring hands of teacher Dirk Eitzen who has made “reaching out to the voiceless” as big a part of their curriculum as the films themselves.
Thank you to the Lancaster Public Library for another very emotive screening and bringing me together with passionate local filmmakers and people like Titus Peachey and his partner Linda – Mennonites who have been extensively involved in Laos and bomb clearance since the early 80s. I would never have expected to find this deep connection so far from Laos and home. And this is the first time I have had any dialogue with Mennonites, and also the Amish who were very generous allowing us into their home where the highlight for me was the matriarch of the house Sarah and her daughters singing together. It was beautiful and timeless.
After the screening at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, I was approached by a man who seemed very moved and who simply opened his phone and began to show me photos of him as a young man in the Vietnam war sitting on top of piles of aircraft bombs. It was his job to load them onto planes. He told me he had no idea what was happening over the border in Laos at the time. There was something meditative and peaceful about these histories and stories coming together, 40 years after a war, shared by people from Australia, from Laos and Thailand, and from Lancaster in the USA.