New Orleans, Los Angeles Asian Pacific, CAAMFest, Dallas, Hot Springs Doc, Indie Grits
An investigation into the hostility experienced by Vietnamese refugees along the US Gulf Coast.
Ostensibly centered around the fatal shooting of a white crabber in the small fishing community of Seadrift TX in 1979, director Tim Tsai’s film attempts to address a far larger story around immigration, racism, and American identity. In the 1970s, Seadrift found itself to be the new home to refugees from the Vietnam War, many who turned to the local crabbing trade to make a living. Unfortunately, through cultural differences and a lack of communication, Vietnamese crabbers soon encountered hostility and accusations of sabotage of established fishermen’s livelihood, eventually leading to violence and the death of Billy Joe Aplin after a dispute with Sau Van Nguyen. The resulting trial and its aftermath brought unwanted attention to the town, both from the national media and the Ku Klux Klan, increasing racial tensions. Unfortunately, Tsai only gets to the Aplin case halfway through his too-short film, a problem of pacing that recurs in the abrupt resolution, resulting in an ultimately unsatisfying investigation that could have delved deeper into still timely issues around refugees and xenophobia.