#SDAFF2018: "ORIGIN STORY" Takes Us On An Emotional Journey In Searching For Family, Culture And Identity
I am going to admit, I am a crier when watching films, especially those which I can relate to or feel that I have some type of emotional attachment to, no matter how loose that attachment is. And, documentary “ORIGIN STORY” by KULAP VILAYSACK is one of those which I had an emotional connection with. It follows the journey of Lao American actress, director, writer and podcaster KULAP VILAYSACK as she traces a mystery which has impacted on her identity emotionally since she was a teenager – that is, realizing the father she thought was her father isn’t her actual biological father. It charts the emotional journey of her reuniting with her family in Minnesota and having the hard conversations with her mother ( where the relationship has been unstable) to find out the identity of her biological father and to understand how her childhood was ( many of which she doesn’t remember being too young when it all happened). “ORIGIN STORY” also was awarded the Special Jury Award at this years San Diego Asian Film Festival Gala.
The documentary takes the audience for a journey from California, to Minnesota and to Laos ( where she finally meets her biological father and half sisters she never knew she had). The documentary is her personal journey over 3 – 4 years, and I must say it is extremely raw, real and truly emotional. My emotional attachment to this documentary is because my husband and his family are also like Vilaysack and are Lao American. They too escaped Laos during the war times and found themselves in concentration camps in Thailand, before they made their way to California in the mid 1980s. For me, it was just an experience to be able to understand more about this history ( as this is referenced in the documentary) and it allowed me to emotionally connect with Vilaysack as she opens up her life to the world.
I don’t want to ruin the film, but just add that I enjoyed the mixture of scenes, time frames, discussions and the comic illustrations which highlighted more about how Vilaysack feels throughout the documentary. It also allowed the audience to see Vilaysack reconnect with the Lao culture, one which she states in the documentary she never felt connected to, and even wanted to erase ( as many of us Western born/raised Asians wanted to do growing up). I definitely on a personal level resonated with this part of her journey. Lastly, this documentary is about relationships – the breakdown and mending of relationship with her mother, the father she loves despite not being her biological father, her biological father and all the family she never knew existed. Truly powerful, courageous and brave documentary. Definitely worth watching, that’s for sure!