Directed by Elizabeth Van Meter
Forty years after the Fall of Saigon, a young Vietnamese woman is among the Vietnam War’s uncounted casualties. Born near fields where American planes sprayed Agent Orange, Thao lives with severe physical deformities. Halfway around the world, a woman in New York is struggling to cope after the sudden death of her famed younger sister.
In the midst of her crippling depression, a friend shows Elizabeth a black-and-white photograph from a recent trip abroad. The image haunts Elizabeth. It shows Thao sitting in a wheelchair outside a shed that houses pig feed, fertilizer — and books. Despite her disabilities, Thao had set up a makeshift library for children in her village.
The photographer who captured the image had asked her, “If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?” Thao replied, “Three hundred dollars, so I could buy more books.” Through this simple request, Thao and Elizabeth are brought together, forging an unlikely sisterhood, transcending language and culture. Together the women reflect on the past. They confront the present. And they begin to heal.
This film is recommended for audiences 15+
Official website: thaoslibrary.com
Van Meter’s documentary work has taken her from the Andes Mountains of Peru to the Tohoku region of Japan (Hand in Hand, Lincoln Center 2014). Elizabeth directed/prod. 40 short films for Gorgeous Entertainment documenting the lives of Japanese Americans. Ms. Van Meter also founded The Purpose Project, an organization searching out individuals who are bringing forth change in their communities, helping them achieve a dream and sharing their stories. She premiered her solo multi-media piece, The Purpose Project: Thao’s Library, at the Cherry Lane Theater, NYC, with versions appearing throughout the US. Elizabeth is a graduate of UNCSA.