Synopsis by Brian Whitener
Longtime head of Cuba's film agency, ICAIC, Santiago Alvarez is often described as the direct heir of the great Soviet documentarian Dziga Vertov. In addition to Laos: The Forgotten War, Alvarez made two films about colonialism in Southeast Asia, Hanoi, Tuesday 13th and The 79 Springtimes of Ho Chi Minh. The later stands as, arguably, his most brilliant and definitive work. The seventy-nine of the title refer to Ho Chi Minh's age at the time of his death and springtime is both a commentary on the hope Ho Chi Minh inspired in his people and a reflection of his poetic predisposition. The film itself is an impressionistic biography of the leader of Democratic Republic of Vietnam comprised of newsreel footage, photography and Ho Chi Minh's writings. It's a masterful documentary that constructs and deconstructs representations of Ho Chi Minh while commenting incisively on colonialism and socialism in the 1960s.