Where did you get the idea?
Twenty years after the death of Barbara Sonneborn's first husband, Jeff Gurvitz, in the war in Vietnam, she realized she still had many unresolved questions and thoughts. She began writing Jeff a letter to tell him how his death had affected her life. Having met only one other widow of the war, she decided she had to talk to widows on both sides. She began writing grants, put together a crew, and began filming in 1991. In 1992, she traveled to Vietnam, to talk to Vietnamese widows and find the place where her husband was killed. During the course of journey, the crew met and interviewed women from both sides of the war, and upon return to the States, continued the interviews. The film is a story told by women from all sides, putting a human face on the all-to-often overlooked casualties of armed conflict: the survivors. Intercut with the serene Vietnamese countryside and shocking archival footage from the war years, the women's voices form an eloquent international chorus calling for peace.
Who is the narrator?
Barbara Sonneborn is a Chicago native who resides currently in California's Bay Area. She is an artist who has shown photography in various venues around the country, has worked in installation and set design, and photographed a children's book. Regret to Inform is Sonneborn's first film, and it is her voice that guides the audience through the course of the film.
How did you find the women you interviewed?
Regret to Inform made many efforts to contact women from all over this country of different ethnic backgrounds, and women from from all over Vietnam. The American widows in the film were contacted after they had responded to various postings and information requests generated by Regret to Inform staff. The Vietnamese women interviewed in the film, both North and South, were contacted through different channels.
Why weren't more South Vietnamese women interviewed for the film?
The Vietnamese women interviewed in the film were from both North and South Vietnam. Although some of their political allegiances were explicit, others were not. The character with the most screen time in Regret to Inform is a South Vietnamese widow, whose first husband died fighting in the South Vietnamese Army.
The bottom line is that Regret to Inform is not a film about politics. It is about how all human beings suffer as a result of war. Everyone suffered on all sides of the Vietnam-American War. Regret to Inform represents the suffering on all sides.
How long did it take you to finish the film?
Writing began in 1988. The film began production in late 1990 and was completed in the summer of 1998. The Vietnamese footage and interviews were shot in 1992. The American interviews were shot from 1991 to 1995. The film was in various stages of production for five years, and was finally completed after two and a half years of editing. The success the film has enjoyed thus far is certainly a reward for the crew members who have dedicated so much of their time, energy and hearts to this project over the years.
Has Regret to Inform won any awards?
Regret to Inform has garnered many awards from around the world. Highlights include an Academy- Award(R) nomination for Best Documentary of 1998, awards for Best Director and Best Cinematographer for a Documentary Feature at Sundance in 1999, and the 1999 Independent Spirit Award. Click here for a complete listing of the film's awards.
Will the film be screened or aired in my area?
Regret to Inform will screen at many more festivals and theaters worldwide. Click here for a list of screenings and events. Also, the film had its national U.S. broadcast premiere on PBS on January 24, 2000. Contact your local PBS affiliate to find out about dates and times of local rebroadcasts. It is also currently being broadcast internationally. If none of these viewing options are convenient for you, you can also order Regret to Inform on home video or DVD from New Video. Call 1-800-314-8822. To order the film for educational institutions or for arrange a screening, contact New Yorker Films at 212-247-6110, extn 211.
Is the director working on any new documentary films?
Regret to Inform's social and historical message has made the film and the director very sought-after at a number of festivals worldwide. The director is currently writing and thinking about projects that will take the ideas of this film further. Sun Fountain Productions, the non-profit organization that produced and distributes the Regret to Inform, has created a new website. The Widows of War Living Memorial is a website where widows of all wars and conflicts can record and tell their stories. The memorial celebrates women as an unprecedented force for peace, healing and reconciliation. The site includes an area for guests to voice their support for these courageous individuals.
How can I reach your production office?
You can reach us by sending an e-mail to:
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