Documentary Monday~~Maya Lin: a Strong Clear Vision

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to think of various continuing blog posts I can do to practice for BEDA.  Since I enjoy movies a lot, many of the ideas have been film related.  Ever since my library started buying adult DVDs (not THOSE kind of adult DVDs…..get your mind out of the gutter!) I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries, so I am going to try to post about a new one every Monday.  For the first 28 years of my life, I don’t know if I ever even watched a documentary, but I’ve discovered that I LOVE them!  So hopefully these posts will help other documentary newbies find some titles they might like.

TitleMaya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision


Awards–Won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1995

Summary–This film is about Maya Lin, the artist who designed the Vietnam Memorial.  It goes into detail about the controversy surrounding the Vietnam Memorial and also features some of the important pieces she has designed since then.

My Thoughts–I really loved all the stuff about the Vietnam Memorial.  I knew almost nothing about it before I saw this film.  I have never been there, but I have always pictured it as a solemn place where family members and friends can remember their loved ones.  Apparently it was super controversial when it was first being built.

Back in 1979, a group of Vietnam vets formed a committee to create a memorial and they had a contest for people and companies to enter a design.  There were over 1,400 designs entered, many of them done by prestigious architectural firms.  Well, the winning design came from a 21 year-old student!!!  I think that is so awesome!!!  Maya Lin and the committee had an uphill battle to fight because some people (mainly a small but outspoken group of veterans) were opposed to the design.  There were even some people who were upset that Maya Lin was the designer because of her Asian heritage.

All of this was so fascinating to me!  My favorite parts were the interviews with members of the committee and Maya herself.  Even though the documentary was filmed almost 15 years after everything took place, it was still an emotional topic for several of the interviewees.  I totally admired Maya and kind of want her to teach me all about art.  She was so well spoken and mature, even in the news footage from when she was 21.  Even while her work was being viciously attacked by people twice her age, she was unwavering in her commitment to the design.  As a person in that situation, I would have burst into tears and hid under my bed (that’s what I would do NOW…..who knows what I would have done at 21).

The rest of the documentary focuses on some of the other important projects she has worked on including the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama and a piece celebrating women at Yale University.  I did like this part of the film, especially seeing how her designs all had a similar feel, but were completely unique to each situation, but I thought that the filmmakers could have spent more time talking about the Vietnam Memorial.  I honestly thought the whole thing could have been just about that.  That section seemed to end really abruptly and then move on to her other works.

Final Verdict–Overall I liked it a lot.  I don’t know a lot about art, but I found her pieces and her explanations for them fascinating.  Good for history buffs or art lovers.


P.S.  I picked Mondays because it makes me think of NonFiction Monday, which is something a lot of Kidlit bloggers take part in.  Since documentaries are nonfiction…well, you know.



8 Responses to “Documentary Monday~~Maya Lin: a Strong Clear Vision”

  1. 1 Abby March 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    That sounds really interesting, Jen!

    Have you seen Spellbound (about the National Spelling Bee)? And Wordplay (about competitive crossword puzzling)?

    Also, I just watched a PBS special called The Boy in the Bubble (kind of heartbreaking, but very interesting about whether we SHOULD go for all medical advances just because we CAN).

    And I’ve also liked Sound and Fury about a family deciding whether or not to get a cochlear implant for their Deaf child and Autism: The Musical about a lady who created a program for kids with autism to put on their own musical. Very touching.

    (MAN, I am a NERD for SERIOUS.)

  2. 2 ngtjennifer March 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    So far I haven’t seen any of those, and we don’t have them at my library. But since I am the one who buys the DVDs at the library….mwah haha haahaha! (that was my evil laugh btw)

    I think Spellbound is one I am getting for sure and the other ones sound fantastic! I bet if I can’t get them for my library I can check them out from Iowa City.

  3. 3 ngtjill March 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Jen, this is an awesome idea! I have been getting more and more into documentaries lately, so I’m excited to hear about ones you like. This one sounds really interesting. I’ll definitely have to watch it.

    I have a few documentaries in my Netflix Streaming queue, but I never get around to watching them because I’m so addicted to Psych. Maybe I will get to them soon. MAYBYE.

  4. 4 Diana March 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    This isn’t for the faint of heart, but I thought Capturing the Friedmans, which I watched years ago, was an interesting documentary.

    Mad Hot Ballroom and Spellbound were more light-hearted, and I recommend both those.

  5. 5 ngtjennifer March 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    It’s so good that all of you are offering such great suggestions! That will make it much easier for me to keep this going every week if I have some ideas of things to watch! Thanks Diana and Abby.

    And Jill, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being addicted to Psych. I’ve wanted to do a post about the show for a long time now, but I feel like I can’t profess my love properly in one post.

  6. 6 ngtlindsay March 22, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Oooh, yes Wordplay was super good. I think Amber and I went and saw that at the Bijou back in the day. I do my crosswords with super glue now because of it.

  7. 7 Amber March 22, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    LOVE Spellbound and Wordplay!!!! May I also recommend Trekkies and Monster Camp for Nerdy documentaries.

    And then also:

    1. The Singing Revolution–about how Estonia gained it’s independence peacefully through folk song!

    2. Herb & Dorothy–about how a Librarian and Postal Clerk amassed one of the greatest collections of minimalist and conceptual art ever (they are adorable–they literally lived off one of their small salaries and used the other’s to purchase art)

    3. Prom Night in Mississippi–Morgan Freeman pays for the students of this southern town to have their FRIST INTEGRATED PROM in 2008

    We have all these at Dport so I can get them for you!

    Also, I think Iowa City might have Helvetica–that one is amazing, too–all about the importance of type and graphic design (and reading!)

  8. 8 ngtjennifer March 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    These suggestions are all so great!! I already have 3 of my posts done and scheduled to post, but I will try get my hands on a lot of the ones all of you recommended.

    I think Spellbound will be one of the first ones I watch since so many of you seem to love it 🙂

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