American Experience (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

American Experience (2004)

American Experience



Critic Consensus: An emotionally wrenching portrayal of a family reunion that doesn't turn out as expected.

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Movie Info

During the fall of Saigon in 1975, countless children were separated from their parents during the final, frantic rush to escape Vietnam before the Communist takeover. Among the kids airlifted to safety was a 7-year-old Amerasian girl named Heidi Bub, born to a Vietnamese mother and an American serviceman. Growing up with her adoptive family in Tennessee, the adult Heidi regarded herself as American through and through, yet the opportunity to return to her homeland in 1997 proved irresistible. Anticipating a joyful reunion with her birth mother Mai Thi Kim, Heidi was not disappointed -- at least not at first. But it did not take long for disillusionment to set in, as Heidi began to rebel against her mother's overbearing displays of affection, exacerbated by the strained relationship between Heidi and her new-found Vietnamese brother. Having assumed that the inevitable clash of cultures would not affect her feelings for her original family, Heidi came to realize that "happy endings" were neither automatic nor guaranteed. Produced for the PBS documentary series American Experience, Daughter from Danang was given a brief theatrical release in January 2002, subsequently winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and earning an Academy Award nomination. The film finally made its TV bow in April 2003.more
Rating: R (for pervasive language including sexual lyrics.)
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By: , ,
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 11, 2003
Box Office: $0.7M
Paramount Classics - Official Site

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News & Interviews for American Experience

Critic Reviews for American Experience

All Critics (87) | Top Critics (41)

Stands as a powerful record of a truly historic event in the annals of rap.

Full Review… | December 10, 2004
Seattle Times
Top Critic

This doesn't stand with the great hip-hop documentaries.

Full Review… | December 3, 2004
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

I'm more familiar with Jersey than with Jay-Z, but I found it difficult to watch this concert (shot in 2003) without gaining some appreciation for the rapper's rapid-fire verbal acrobatics.

December 3, 2004
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic

A concert film that captures last year's Garden party along with well-orchestrated, if not especially revealing, behind-the-scenes footage.

Full Review… | November 12, 2004
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

A spectacular concert documentary that also gives some fascinating insights into the making of 'The Black Album.'

Full Review… | November 5, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic

Against a vibrant, well-lit backdrop, he performs his biggest hits with an intensity and clarity that should allow even the uninitiated to appreciate the lyrical dexterity which makes him the genre's dean, the first rapper profiled on 60 Minutes.

Full Review… | November 5, 2004
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for American Experience


An Amer-Asian woman travels to Vietnam to meet her long-lost mother.
Aside from a few forays into a discussion of cultural and racial differences -- the Vietnamese family's request for money and the Tennessee family's racism -- there is no discernible difference between this documentary and an episode of Maury Povich. It has all the melodrama of daytime talk with very little of the thematic sophistication one might expect from film, especially a film that won at Sundance.
Also, I found all the characters unlikable. Heidi lacked any characteristic aside from a plastic smile, and the family was all jubilation. And when the Vietnamese family "turned on" Heidi, I failed to sympathize with either party.
Overall, Maury is the same but shorter, so watch it instead; just make sure you don't get a paternity episode instead of a reunion episode.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


A true journey into the lives and perspectives of two different points of view.

This is the perfect case studies of how upbringing, not blood, is what makes us who we are.

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