Anatomy of a Spring Roll

Genre: Documentary
Ethnicity: Vietnamese American
Themes: Cultural Encounter & Misunderstanding, Identity/Representation, Immigrant/Refugee Experience/Diaspora, Labor & Class Issues
Date: 1993
Running Time: 56 min.
Directors/Producers: Paul Kwan and Arnold Iger

Persona Grata Productions
$19.95 DVD Purchase
"Food is everyone’s first language," Kwan declares at the beginning of the film.  Anatomy of a Springroll follows Paul Kwan’s journey to reconcile his Vietnamese roots with his current American life.  In 1973, Kwan’s father bribed a customs official to allow the youngest of his 24 children to flee the political chaos in Saigon.  When the death of his father brings Kwan back to Saigon, a flood of memories greet him.  He turns to his 73-year old mother for support and discovers a calming truth: in order to understand a culture, one must first learn the secrets of its food.  He vigorously pursues his family history and culture through culinary discoveries; his passion for food is his way at attempting to blend the traditions of his birth culture with his adopted American life.  The film combines fantasy and documentary by mixing food-as-metaphor with family footage, history, performance, as well as animation and puppetry, making for a rich sensory narrative.

Harvey, Dennis.  "TV Reviews: Anatomy of a Springroll."  Variety.  April 25, 1994.

Matsumoto, Jon.  "‘Springroll’ recalls Vietnam via food."  Los Angeles Times.  April 25, 1994.

McCray, Nancy.  "Video--Anatomy of a Springroll."  The Booklist.  November 1, 1993.

Sterritt, David.  "Social commentary via the kitchen."  Christian Science Monitor.  April 22, 1994.

Winn, Steven.  "Kwan’s ‘Springroll’ Is Food for Thought."  San Francisco Chronicle. May 22, 1992.

Supplementary Materials
The Filmmakers, Independent Television Service
Bios of Kwan and Iger
Yang, Jeff.  "The Pot Luck Club: Anatomy of a Springroll."  Village Voice.  May 24, 1994.

Asian American Filmography ExEAS