In March 1967 Billy Bang was conscripted to fight one year in the jungles of Vietnam, an experience that left him emotionally desolate and profoundly confused about his american idendity. Upon his return he tried to forget his nightmares through alcohol, drugs and music.
Fourty years later he decides that the only way he will be able to repair his emotions and find some closure to his trauma is to return to Vietnam, this time with his violin.
'Billy Bang Lucky Man' documents Billy Bang’s brave return to the battlefields of his past, fraught with memories and flashbacks, in contrast to the eboulliant youthful Vietnam of today, as he encounters a people and a culture that he had never known and had been taught to hate. His journey takes him through the rich musical traditions of Vietnam, from Saigon and the Mekong Delta, north across the 17th parallel and climaxing with his collaboration with the Hanoi symphony orchestra.
'Billy Bang Lucky Man' is about Billy’s desire to overcome and transcend the trauma of war through music and art.
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“Billy Bang Lucky Man', which documented Billy Bang's return to Vietnam blew me away away. There were no punches pulled as we got to see this former GI - "a tunnel rat" - deal simultaneously with the people he once viewed and treated as the enemy while negotiating his own trauma and emotional turmoil. This film boldly documents the musical redemption, the journey to the light, that Billy Bang experienced as a result of that trip to the heart of darkness”.
Paul Bradshaw - Straight No Chasert
"It’s fantastic, it’s brilliant, it’s very very good"
Robert Elms - BBC Radio London
“'This final act may have been his best”.
Karl Ackermann - All about Jazz
...like Bang's life and music, the process of this film is a wild, harrowing, and often beautiful ride. As Bang himself puts it in the movie after a particularly moving musical collaboration: "What a journey, my friend."
Thomas Maresca - Asia Life