Tony Nguyen’s documentary “Enforcing the Silence” chronicles the life and violent death of a young community organizer. Lam Trong Duong was 23 when he founded The Vietnamese Youth Development Center in the Tenderloin district in 1978. With bachelor’s degrees in both math and philosophy and frustrated by the lack of services available to the influx of Vietnamese refugees to the Bay Area, Duong began the center with the idea of creating both a community space for his displaced compatriots and as a way to help them find success in their adopted homeland through education and employment training. Over the next three years he expanded his commitment to organizing the community through hosting a radio program and beginning to publish a weekly newspaper, reprinting stories from post-war communist Vietnam.
On July 21, 1981, returning home from work, Duong was gunned down outside his apartment building in broad daylight. Although no charges were ever brought, an anti-communist group claimed responsibility several days later. From 1982 to 1990, five more Vietnamese Americans would be violently killed with no resulting convictions.
It was while Nguyen was working as a counselor at the center that he learned of Duong’s story and embarked upon the journey of learning how to become a filmmaker through community college courses before beginning production on the film three years later.
“Enforcing The Silence”
CounterPULSE (1310 Mission Street) @ 9th
Wednesday 1/18 7:30 p.m.
A Q&A with the filmmaker will follow.