Precious Cargo (56 minutes)
Precious Cargo — Return to Vietnam (28 minutes)
Originally released in 2001, Precious Cargo was reissued in 2020 as a short film for submission to various film festivals.
They were warmly embraced, they wanted to belong, yet they knew they were somehow different. Strangers stopped them and asked of their origins. In many cases, they were unable to answer. Some, to this day, do not know their father or mother’s name. And it hurts.
Precious Cargo reveals the complex saga of the “babylift.” It is the last chapter of a war that tore their country apart. Yet it is not quite over for more than 2,000 children airlifted from Vietnam to the U.S. in 1975 who were given love and education, but most importantly, a new beginning.
For our military, it seemed like a final act of redemption. To the new government in Hanoi, it was a propaganda ploy or a criminal act, tantamount to kidnapping. Other critics saw it as a last effort by the U.S. government to win sympathy and financial support for South Vietnam. But for most Americans, it was a final gesture in a war they wanted to forget.
A Story of Connecting and A Search for Answers….
Those least able to forget were the children — filmed here in their mid-20s to early 30s. Until making the group voyage, many of them also preferred to forget. In some cases, clues to their past were revealed only after years of speculation. Reunions and this trip to Vietnam, 25 years later, unlocked some of the mystery of their past. In a story about connecting, we follow six of them on that journey.
Precious Cargo was broadcast on PBS stations in November 2001 for National Adoption Awareness Month, and was broadcast in territories outside the United States by National Geographic Channels.
- Janet Gardner — Director/Producer
- Pham Quoc Thai — Producer
- Len McClure — Director of Photography/Associate Producer
- Kevin Cloutier — Additional Photography
- Nicole Domenici — Editor
- Sound Mix — David Browning
- Sound Recordist — Tsang Tsui Shan
- Dr. Coy F. Cross II, Historian,
U.S. Air Force
- Dr. John Gilmartin, Department of History,
Ohio State University
- Dr. Wayne Thompson, Office of Air Force History,
U.S. Air Force
- Dr. Edward Ziegler, Department of Psychology,
- JERSEYANA; Educating Janet: Moved by the Desperate Plight of Southeast Asians, A Reporter Captures the War’s Aftermath on Film (pdf)
The New York Times, December 30, 2001
- “TELEVISION REVIEW; When Those Orphaned by War Return to Vietnam” (pdf)
The New York Times, December 22, 2001
- “For Vietnam War orphans, a bittersweet return home War orphans return to a land they never knew” (pdf)
Philly.com, October 31, 2001
- Gold Remi Award for Short Documentary at the 54th Annual WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, 2021
- CINE Special Jury Award, 2001
- Winner of the CINE Golden Eagle Award, 2001
- Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi Award and Bronze Medallion for National Television Feature Reporting, 2001
- Deadline Club Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, 2001
- Winner of The Chris Award, Columbus International Film & Video Festival, 2001