Film Image
Indochina: Traces of a Mother
72 minutes
English subtitles

Indochina: Traces of a Mother

INDOCHINA: TRACES OF A MOTHER documents a little-known chapter in African, Asian and French colonial history and the personal story of Christophe, a Beninese-Vietnamese orphan that returns to Vietnam to look for his long-lost mother.

Between 1946 and 1954, more than 60,000 African soldiers were enlisted by France to fight the Viet Minh during the First Indochina War. Pitted against one another by circumstances, African and Vietnamese fighters came into contact, and a number of African soldiers married Vietnamese women. Out of these unions, numerous mixed-race children were born.

At the end of the war, the French colonial army gave orders to bring all Afro-Vietnamese children to Africa. While some children left with their mothers and fathers, others were simply taken away by their fathers, leaving their mothers behind. Children that had neither mother nor father were abandoned in orphanages and put up for mass adoption by African officers.
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“INDOCHINA : TRACES OF A MOTHER gives space for the grown Afro-Vietnamese orphans to tell their stories, but also to explore the contradictions of the colonial order.” - Black Film Center/Archive Blog
“Heartbreaking… These men, oppressed by the French, were brought to Vietnam to fight a war which they had no part of, and which wasn’t theirs to begin with.” - Shadow and Act Blog
"INDOCHINA’s exploration of heretofore uncharted ground in French, African, and Vietnamese history and its insight into the unexpected psychological impacts of colonial warfare illuminate the present." - Ian Merkel, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art
"The French war to reclaim Indochina after World War II often pitted soldiers from France's African colonies against rebels from France's Southeast Asian colonies, sometimes producing mixed-race Afro-Vietnamese children who were separated from their mothers and raised in Africa... Indochina pulls back the veil on an episode of twentieth-century history that is largely unknown and easily forgotten... the film firmly sets the lives of an aging generation of Afro-Vietnamese within the colonial struggle which, perversely, frequently pitted subjects of one colony against subjects of another. Suitable for high school classes and college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of race, anthropology of war/violence, anthropology of colonialism, and Southeast Asian and Africa studies, as well as for general audiences." - Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database​ (ARD)

• Third Prize, Documentary Film, FESPACO, Burkina Faso
• Best Documentary, Algiers International Film Festival
• New Directions in African Cinema, New York University
• New Orleans Loving Festival
• Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival
• Africa World Documentary Film Festival
• Luxor African Film Festival, Egypt
• Film Africa, London
• Africa in the Picture, Amsterdam
• Festival International du Film d'Afrique et des Iles, Iles de Réunion
• African Film Festival in Cordoba-FCAT, Spain
• Namur International Film Festival, Belgium
• Guadeloupe Documentary Film Festival
• Les Escales Documentaires de Libreville
• Les Rencontres Cinématographiques de Hergla, Tunisia
• Algiers International Film Festival
• Busan International Film Festival, South Korea

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