30 years after the Vietnam War, former DDR-Photographer Thomas Billhardt embarks on a search for the people, whom he took pictures of during the war. A portrait of two different generations in today’s Vietnam.

The narrative thread of the documentary “Iced Lemonade for Hong Ly” is the search for contemporary witnesses of the war, who had been photographed by the former DDR-Photographer Thomas Billhardt 30 years prior. Thomas Billhardt travelled to Vietnam twelve times between 1967 and 1975 in service of the DDR-Government. In this film tradition comes face to face with the present through his images.

The focal point of the film is a public photo exhibition by Thomas Billhardt at Lake Hoan-Kiem in the center of Hanoi. Here in Hanoi the new lifestyle of large parts of the population and the successes of massive economic reforms can be felt clearly. Here a new young generation, viewing status symbols and careers as defining values, meet an older generation that valued very different goals over the past 50 years.

Thomas Billhardt’s main motivation is the search for Hong Ly. In 1968 he took pictures of her, while she worked with a brigade to repair the destroyed bridges and streets. These photographs were published in several of his picture volumes. The search for her also leads to encounters with other people, who had recognized there image at the exhibit.

Two young Vietnamese accompany Thomas Billhardt on his search:

Tran Viet Duc – a young photographer from Hanoi, who deals with topics such as homelessness, poverty and the younger generations. His newspaper articles aid Thomas Billhardt in his search for contemporary witnesses.

Can Lan Anh is a young doctor from Hanoi, committed to supporting AIDS-Education in Vietnam. She shows Thomas Billhardt the problems and dreams of today’s Vietnam.

Iced Lemonade for Hong Ly
Documentary by Dietmar Ratsch and Arek Gielnik
Germany 2000, 90 min, DVCam/Super 16mm

Production Company:
INDI FILM, Film University Baden-Württemberg and SWR

Financial Support:
MFG regional fund Baden-Württemberg

PROGRESS Film Distribution

Festivals and Awards:
Berlin International Film Festival 2001
USA Wine Country Film Festival 2001 (Grand Prize international Arts)
Documentary Film Festival DOCLANDS Dublin 2000