Documentary on Vietnam’s most famous spy begins this week

Documentary on Vietnam’s most spy begins this week

Pham Xuan An on a street of Saigon in 1952  

A documentary film about one of Vietnam’s most famous spies will be broadcast on Ho Chi Minh City television channels from Dec. 9, the HCMC Television Film Studio (TFS) said in a press conference last week.

It is the longest portrait documentary ever made by TFS and presents the brave and skillful espionage activities of the “perfect spy”, Pham Xuan An, during the American War.

The 12-part documentary, entitled Huyen Thoai ve tuong tinh bao Pham Xuan An (The Legend of Intelligence General Pham Xuan An), will show never-before-seen footage of the war that is stored in the US troops’ document warehouse.

The film’s director, Phong Lan, said the film started in 2002 and took five years to shoot.

Viewers of the documentary film will have a chance to see An not only as a brilliant communist spy with effective strategies but also as a normal man in his daily life looking after his garden, watering his plants, and calling on his friends.

The documentary ends with deeply moving footage of the talented spy losing his three month battle with emphysema.

An, who was born on Sept. 12, 1927, started his intelligence work in 1952.

Many admired An for his remarkable and perilous life as an undercover communist agent and a respected reporter for Reuters and the Times during the war. An maintained extensive relations with CIA agents and officials of the US-backed South Vietnam regime under President Ngo Dinh Diem.

As a journalist for foreign news organizations, and by using his contact with political and military officials serving US troops, An could access US military bases and gather precious intelligence. With his formidable skill, he was able to provide accurate strategic analysis to the revolutionary forces

He once told the Associated Press, “I fought for two things – independence and social justice.”

He also said he had never reported any false or misleading information in his role as a journalist.

During 23 years as a double agent, his life was always in danger. He always carried suicide drugs in case he suddenly needed them, but luckily, due to his talent and skill, he never had to resort to such measures.

A year after the country unified in 1975 with the fall of US-backed South Vietnam regime, An was honored to become the “Hero of the Armed Forces”.

The documentary film was completed just after he passed away at the age of 79. He had suffered for three months with emphysema at a military hospital in HCMC.

Over 300 Vietnamese and international representatives came to pay tribute to Vietnam’s famous spy at his funeral. Lieutenant-general Nguyen Chi Vinh, Head of the Defense Ministry’s General Department No 2, read a memorial speech:

“Comrade Pham Xuan An was one of the best double agents that worked nonstop for 23 years behind enemy lines…An always upheld a transparent morality in the face of adversity … He was a charismatic man, the quintessence of the intelligence service…”

Many local and overseas journalists and authors have written about An showing deep respect for him personally and appreciation for his work. For instance, American Larry Berman wrote about Pham Xuan An in his book Perfect Spy, which is now very popular in the US.  

Berman, a professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis, made over 15 visits to Vietnam to interview An and members of his espionage network while writing the book.

The documentary film will be broadcast from Dec. 9, at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 9 of HCMC Television network (HTV9), 8:30 p.m. on HCMC Choice Center (HTVC), and then broadcast again on HTV9 at 7:25 a.m. from Dec. 10.  

This is TFS’s third documentary film featuring the espionage network in the American War, following Sai Gon Special Task Force and Intelligence Major-General Nguyen Dinh Ngoc.

Source: Tuoi Tre


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