War Takes

Country of Origin:
Format: ,
Running Time: 96 min

The film War Takes, directed by Adelaida Trujillo and Patricia Castaño, offers a distinct perspective on the violence and chaos inflicted on Colombia by guerillas, the paramilitary, American involvement and conflicts over the drug trade. Unlike sensationalized depictions of conflict in Colombia, War Takes is narrated by Patricia Castano and is heavily influenced by her and Adelaida’ s families and careers producing television for children. The film spends a lot of time showing how both women balance their lives in the studio and at home. This view into their domestic and public lives is essential in understanding how the situation in Colombia affects their lives.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of violence in Colombia this is a great film to start with. Patricia offers a narrative of the situation that is geared towards an English speaking audience that has little or no prior knowledge. The film War Takes gives a middle class family’s perspective on the impact of the history of violence in Colombia.

Mai’s America (Dir: Marlo Poras, 2002)

Country of Origin:
Running Time: 72 min

Film, color
Distributed by Women Make Movies

Mai’s America is the journey of a Vietnamese teenager who leaves a well-to-do lifestyle in Vietnam for America her senior year of high school with high hopes to discover the secret of American success. Instead she finds herself stranded in rural Mississippi. Mai struggles to fit in with her “redneck” hosts, and blames herself for their depression. She bonds with Chris, a cross dressing Mississippi native because they both feel like they don’t belong. Transferred to another host family, Mai still battles the loneliness of an exile, trying to create an identity for herself within an American framework that doesn’t deliver what it promises. She is accepted to Tulane but within a year has to drop out because her father cannot pay the large tuition. Following his advice, Mai goes to Detroit to work in a nail salon, joining the ranks of other Vietnamese immigrants struggling to support themselves and their families. The camera interjects Mai’s commentary on the people and situations in her life, allowing the audience to see America from an outside perspective.
Marlo Poras had originally been making a film about AIDS when she met a group of students in Hanoi preparing to go to America on exchange. Although Poras started out with four students, she narrowed the film down to focus just on Mai. Poras followed Mai for two years, recording all of Mai’s experiences to create Mai’s unique perspective on the clash of two cultures and the building and destruction of dreams. Mai’s America won several documentary awards including the South by Southwest Film Festival, Audience Award for Best Documentary and the San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Award.

Subject headings: Vietnam, International, Immigration and Exile, Documentary, Young Women, Asian American, Racism, Queer Studies, Education, Sociology


Poras, Marlo. “Mai’s America: a Documentary by Marlo Poras.” 30 Oct. 2004.

Tran, Tini. “From Hanoi to Mississippi: a crash course for an exchange student in `Mai’s
America.’” 1 Aug. 2002. 30 Oct. 2004. .

“Women Make Movies: Mai’s America.” 30 Oct. 2004.

Willa Kramer, 2004

Love and Diane (Dir: Jennifer Dworkin, 2002)

Country of Origin:
Running Time: 55 min

distributed by Women Make Movies


In Love & Diane, Jennifer Dworkin and her crew enter the world of a family trying to unite after years of separation, yet at the same time fighting to express their individuality and assert themselves. This emotional documentary places the audience in the middle of an environment filled with substance abuse, teen pregnancy, child neglect, poverty, HIV, depression, suicide attempts, and a bureaucracy that fails to support the people who need its assistance the most. The story focuses on the Hazzard family, specifically Diane and her daughter Love. When Love was eight-years-old she told her teacher that her mother was on drugs, causing CPS to remove Love and her siblings from her mother’s care. All of the siblings have recently been reunited with their mother and Love is now 19 and HIV positive. Diane is out of work. Love has recently given birth to a son, Donyeah, who appears to be HIV positive, although the tests are not conclusive as he still has some of his mother’s immune system mixed in with his own. After a family fight, Diane mentions to her therapist that Love has is a neglectful parent to Donyeah, and that afternoon the police arrive to take Donyeah away from Love and place him in foster care. Love suddenly finds herself in the same situation that her mother was in ten years ago. To Love, Donyeah is all that matters in the world and she must try and learn the system in order to get him back. The loss of Donyeah to foster care effects the whole family emotionally and economically as his illness granted them an extra housing credit and other benefits that they must do without if they do not regain custody. Between fighting and blaming one another, the family must learn to come together and support each other if they want to get Donyeah back, overcome their past, and move on to a brighter future.

Subject Headings:

AIDS, Foster Care, Parenting, Urban Poverty, Welfare, Documentary Studies, Family Relations, Feature Films (Documentary), Motherhood, Sociology


Hazzard, Diane. Ask Diane: Diane Answers Questions from Viewers. P.O.V. ( accessed November 4, 2004.

Miller, Laura. Love & Diane. (
review/2003/04/18/love_diane/index_np.html) accessed November 4, 2004.

Smiley, Tavis Interview: Diane Hazzard and Jennifer Dworken Discuss the Documentary “Love and Diane.” N.P.R. originally broadcast April 20, 2004. (
interviewdianehazzardandjenniferdworkindiscussthed/) accessed November 4, 2004.

Emily Nolte 11/4/04