Which Way is East: Notebooks from Vietnam

by Lynne Sachs in Collaboration with Dana Sachs
33 min.

“A frog that sits at the bottom of a well thinks that the
whole sky is only as big as the lid of a pot.”

When two American sisters travel north from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, conversations with Vietnamese strangers and friends reveal to them the flip side of a shared history.  Lynne and Dana Sachs’ travel diary of their trip to Vietnam is a collection of tourism, city life, culture clash, and historic inquiry that’s put together with the warmth of a quilt.  “Which Way Is East” starts as a road trip and flowers into a political discourse.  It combines Vietnamese parables, history and memories of the people the sisters met, as well as their own childhood memories of the war on TV.  To Americans for whom “Vietnam” ended in 1975, “Which Way Is East” is a reminder that Vietnam is a country, not a war.  The film has a combination of qualities: compassion, acute observational skills, an understanding of history’s scope, and a critical ability to discern what’s missing from the textbooks and TV news. (from The Independent Film and Video Monthly, Susan Gerhard)

“Captures the Vietnam experience with comprehension and compassion, squeezing a vast and incredible country into an intriguing film.” Portland Tonic Magazine

“The sound track is layered with the cacophony of bustling city streets, the chirps of cicadas and gentle rustles of trees in the countryside, and the visuals, devoid of travelogue clichés, are a collage of pictorial snippets taken from unusual vantage points….  What comes through is such a strong sense of the place you can almost smell it.”  The Chicago Reader

“It’s really a magnificent film about translation, with the play of light and shadow mirroring the movement between language, cultures, and moments in time.  It brought back memories of my own years in east Asia, too. The light was exactly the same!” Sam Diiorio


Sundance Film Festival; Atlanta Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize;  Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Cinematheque; San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival;  Melbourne Film Fest; Sydney Film Fest;  Ann Arbor Film Fest; Denver Film Fest, Whitney Museum of American Art


Icarus Films


32 Court Street, Floor 21
Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA


Amherst College; Arizona State University; University of California, Berkeley and Irvine; Duke University; Hong Kong University of Science; New York University; New York Public Library; Penn State; Rutgers University; University of Iowa; Minneapolis Public Library; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Virginia; Northwestern; Seattle Public Library