Courtney Marsh: behind and beyond her documentary film "Chau"

Courtney Marsh (@courtneynmarsh) is a director and filmmaker.  Courtney's latest film Chau, Beyond the Lines is a documentary about a 16-year-old teenager named Chau in Vietnam who was disabled by the effects of Agent Orange. Chau aspires to become an artist and clothing designer.

Agent Orange is the chemical sprayed over the jungles in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, to deprive the Northern Vietnamese Army of their food and cover. 30 years after the war, there are still young people like Chau who are affected by these chemicals.

I teared up less than a minute into watching the film. 

Chau was told repeatedly that becoming an artist is a dream. "A dream is just a dream," a nurse said to him, with good intentions. But Chau believes that he is not limited by his physical disabilities.  Chau is the oldest teen at a peace camp in Vietnam, so his beliefs were influential to the other disabled children. Chau taught everyone around him that "people are only limited by their minds."

Courtney followed Chau for 8 years from when he was a teenager into his early 20s. "I have no backup plan." Courtney told me. Between self-financing (herself and producer Jerry Franck), generous donations and a few school grants to get the project off the ground, for years Courtney has had to live a humble life and work part-time as a Lyft driver.

The good news is that Courtney and her team's hard work has begun to pay off. People around the United States are taking action after watching Chau's story and are contributing to the cause. The documentary was also shortlisted with nine other documentaries from 74 entries submitted to the 88th Academy Awards. The final five nominations are scheduled to be announced on January 14, 2016.

To learn more about Courtney Marsh, please visit the Chau, Beyond the Lines official website and join their Facebook page.

This film couldn't have become a reality without the indomitable spirt of all these filmmakers:

  • Courtney Marsh - Director/Editor/Producer
  • Jerry Franck - Producer
  • Duy Nguyen - Associate Producer/Translator/Additional Camera
  • Marcelo Mitnik - Co-Writer/Executive Producer

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