The Vietnam War is a history lesson for the YouTube generation, but for many Vietnamese, the danger of leftover landmines and other explosives is very much a part of the present. Documentary filmmaker Benjamin Welmond has launched an Indiegogo for his latest project, Renew Vietnam, following a journey that opened his eyes to the war’s legacy in that part of the world.
The documentary will focus on Quang Tri Province, considered one of the most heavily bombed places in the world with more than 400,000 tons of explosives left behind.
“Growing up in the U.S., we get a very one-sided version of the events of the Vietnam War,” Welmond says. “It wasn’t until I visited Vietnam that I began to see the real effect of these legacies on local populations. When I was first exposed to Quang Tri’s complicated history, I was shocked to realize that the devastation America had caused in this part of the world was literally record breaking and that the Vietnamese were only recently beginning to recover.”
Welmond followed the efforts of Project Renew, an NGO founded in 2001 to remove bombs, landmines, artillery and other weapons. So far the organization has trained 200 local staff who work tirelessly to make Vietnam safe again.
“I spent the latter part of 2014 coordinating and planning with different members of the organization and in December I spent one week in Quang Tri filming and learning about Project Renew. Along with a camera operator from a local television station, I filmed demolitions, student workshops, and amputee meetings. I was given an insider look into a dedicated and talented group of people working to make a distressed part of the world safe and prosperous.”
To best tell the story of Project Renew, Welmond is raising money for animation, a composer for the soundtrack, a translator, and film festival fees. So far the project has raised $1,618 of the required $5,800 goal, with 20 days left.
If you want to support a vital cause in Vietnam as well as independent filmmaking, head over to Renew Vietnam‘s Indiegogo page and donate what you can, and share this article to spread the word.