The Whistleblower of My Lai
MAD | Music/Art/Design
In this artful, resonant documentary, veteran activist filmmaker Connie Field (The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter; Have You Heard from Johannesburg) counterpoints the history of one of the shameful episodes in US military history with the production of a radical new opera about the helicopter pilot who broke the story of the notorious My Lai massacre.
March 16, 1968: Hugh Thompson intervened to save Vietnamese citizens and reported back to HQ on the unfolding massacre perpetrated by his US army comrades, which claimed 504 lives (per Vietnamese count). Later he testified in court against the officers who led the atrocity. Though they were acquitted or pardoned the My Lai story had a profound impact on public opinion within the US and across the globe.
Composed by Jonathan Berger in collaboration with librettist Harriet Chessman, and performed by the Kronos Quartet, tenor Rinde Eckert and Vietnamese instrumentalist Van-Anh Vo, the opera My Lai ruminates on the passage of time, the nature of heroism and wartime, as the ailing Thompson reflects on the events that would define his life, a theme that picks up more layers of meaning in Field’s film, as the prodigious artists involved discuss their own perspectives on the still all-too-relevant lessons of history.