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Mai's America

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PBS Premiere: August 6, 2002


A spunky Vietnamese teenager named Mai gets the chance of a lifetime—to study in the United States. Expecting Hollywood, she instead lands in rural Mississippi, a crazy quilt of self-proclaimed rednecks, cliquish teenagers, South Vietnamese exiles and transvestite soulmates. As she tries to fit in and to make ends meet, Mai discovers that America is both less and far more than she bargained for. From cosmopolitan Hanoi to the heart of the Deep South, Mai’s unforgettable journey offers an outsider’s glimpse inside America.

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TAGS: culture, high school, mississippi, vietnam

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Film Information

Mai's America (80 min.)

Premiere Date: August 6, 2002

Trailer: Link

Filmmaker: Marlo Poras Bio | Interview | Statement


Marlo Poras
Marlo Poras

The exchange program that placed Mai brings over 500 kids annually from around the world. Their diverse introductions to the States made me think a great deal about how we define America. ”

— Marlo Poras, Filmmaker


Film Update

Critical Acclaim

Insightful and bittersweet, the film provides an unexpected picture of America through the eyes of a charming candid heroine.”

— Tini Tran, Associated Press

Astonishing. This most unlikely story about a Vietnamese exchange student in the Deep South is by turns hilarious, voyeuristic, wise, bizarre and sadly ironic. Filmmaker Marlo Poras followed Mai for two years, and her film overflows with telling observations.”

— Aaron Barnhart, Kansas City Star

Best Documentary Film of 2002”

— Gerald Peary, Boston Phoenix

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