Vietnam-made Short Film Premiered at United Nations

Vietnam-made Short Film Premiered at United Nations

To highlight the work Vietnamese NGO, SCDI, has been doing for many years advocating for the rights of undocumented Vietnamese citizens, they recently commissioned Hanoi-based filmmaker, Paul Zetter, to make a short film. With plenty of case studies to choose from, Zetter was inspired by the story of a young man living with HIV/AIDS who was one identity card application form away from dying. Without being able to get an identity card due to his lack of a birth certificate, currently under the law it is challenging for him to get the medication he needs to keep the disease in remission. Stemming from his mother being too ashamed of not being able to afford his birth registration fee in hospital, Nam, (name changed), has since lived a life on the edge of society, largely undocumented, largely forgotten.

Luckily there is now a light on the horizon for people like Nam – since the film was made and after years of advocacy by SDCI and other organisations, there is now a new Government decree allowing for medical insurance cards to be issued without an identity card. However there is still a lot to be done until it eventually becomes written in law.

The film premiered by Director SCDI, Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, on 23rd September at the Meeting for Universal Health Coverage at the UN in New York.

Film by: Paul Zetter
Production Manager: Hoa Vũ
“The ink from my pen flows into a memory” by: Paul Zetter
Translation: Phạm Ngọc Đức & Đinh Thị An Hà

The ink from my pen flows into a memory

The ink from my pen forms words, blurred by regulation.
A life lived on the edges of the page rendered numberless
by abandonment and isolation.

My identity exists but
it doesn’t have a number
as, address-less I sit, left to contemplate my existence.

My mother left the hospital quietly with me in her arms
to avoid the shame that is poverty,
my birth left unregistered.

I sit here now, looking to be reborn as a number

I only knew my father’s name when he died
The bars in mother’s cell kept us apart
while my grandma’s loving hands fed me.

The ink from my pen flows into a memory

The roof over my head was usually made of stars
or bodies seeking comfort,
giving me the ‘disease of the century’.

This form could give me wings to fly
if I had the right numbers.
But it is a closed door, locked by an unattainable combination.

Give me my name and give me my number,
my right to a life for living not dying.
Do not blur me out.

It will be my safe passage to health and a life acknowledged,
to make my grandmother proud.

The ink from my pen flows into a memory.


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