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A Village Called Versailles

by S. Leo Chiang

One community's political awakening in the aftermath of tragedy.

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A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES is an Emmy®-nominated documentary about Versailles, an isolated community in eastern New Orleans that has been settled by Vietnamese “boat people” since the late 1970s. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Vietnamese American residents in Versailles impressively rise to the challenges by returning and rebuilding before any other flooded neighborhood in New Orleans, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill just two miles away. A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES recounts the empowering story of how this group of people, who has already suffered so much in their lifetime, turns a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance for a better future.

Recommended by educators as an excellent teaching tool for courses in:

Asian American Studies
Ethnic Studies
American Studies
Urban Studies
Urban Planning
Environmental Justice

This powerful documentary will have its national television broadcast on PBS in 2010 as a part of the Independent Lens series.

quoteAn absolutely remarkable documentary on the Vietnamese American community that will elicit thoughtful discussion in Asian American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Urban Studies classes. It presents with great sensitivity the tragedies of displacement, yet focuses on the remarkable power of dignified resistance and coalition-building across generational, gender, class, linguistic, and racial boundaries.
Linda Trinh Vo, Chair, Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Irvine

quoteTells a poignant and touching story of a community's rejuvenation in the face of devastation and government corruption. The film focuses on a group of passionate residents working to establish their community.
Elliot Mandel
full review

quoteThree and a half stars! Offers an important sociological examination of how Vietnamese immigrants have assimilated into the U.S. mainstream. Highly recommended.
P. Hall
Video Librarian
full review

quoteA VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES is an excellent documentary film for classrooms at K-12 and universities, especially in Asian American studies and ethnic studies in general, community studies, geography, sociology, urban studies, and urban planning, as well as for general public education.
Dr. Wei Li, Associate Professor, Asian Pacific American Studies Program and School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning, Arizona State University

quoteChiang’s deep understanding and experience with ethnographic complexity ensures that his primary informants – members of Versailles – are given priority over any participant-observation.
Mariam B. Lam, University of California, Riverside
Visual Anthropology
full review

More Reviews


  • National Emmy® Awards Nomination
  • PBS national broadcast, INDEPENDENT LENS 2010
  • LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, AUDIENCE AWARD & CALL TO ACTION AWARD

  • San Francisco Int'l Asian Am Film Festival, AUDIENCE AWARD

  • Council on Foundations Film & Video Fest, HENRY HAMPTON AWARD

  • Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Crossroads Film Festival, BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • New Orleans Film Festival, AUDIENCE AWARD

  • American Sociological Association film screening

  • Association for Asian American Studies screening

  • AAA/SVA Film, Video, & Multimedia Festival

  • Association of American Geographers annual meeting

  • New England American Studies Association meeting

  • National CAPACD annual meeting

  • ViFF: Vietnamese Int'l Film Festival

  • Hawaii Int'l Film Festival

  • San Diego Asian Film Festival

  • DC APA Film Festival

  • Austin Asian American Film Festival

Resource Web Sites

appleDiscussion Guide

A valuable eight-page study and discussion guide, which includes background information, discussion questions, resources and action items.

appleVietnamese Katrina Experiences: Windows to the Past and Present

Article by Unversity of Houston Vietnamese Studies professor Long Le, originally published in Vietnamese by BBC-Vietnamese.

appleYearbook 2006

An excellent online interactive project that documents and preserves the legacy of the graduatiing class of Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, a public high shcool with an economcially, ethnically, and geographicallyy diverse student body.

Yeabook 06 interviews 31 graduating seniors, who share their personal Katrina experiences. Map and timeline included.

appleCurriculum guide on Vietnamese Americans (Teaching Tolerance)

Vietnamese American. Not only Vietnamese. Not only American. Not one or the other, but both Vietnamese and American. Two words connected. Two worlds intertwined.

Designed for use with learners in grades 7 and above, this curriculum guide sheds light on the complexities of this unique identity group — and encourages users to bridge cultural gaps through awareness of shared experiences.

A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Visit the official website for A Village Called Versailles

A Village Called Versailles

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Appropriate for: High School College/University

Special Features:

DVD includes:
67-min Theatrical version with Vietnamese subtitles
54-min Educational/PBS version with closed captions and audio descriptions
15-min Condensed version

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