The Leaves Keep Falling

A film by Ed Kashi/Talking Eyes Media with photographs by Catherine Karnow

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed some 12 million gallons of Agent Orange herbicide over Vietnam. This defoliant was used to  destroy crops, clear vegetation, and remove the dense forest that provided food and cover for Vietcong forces. At least 4.5 million Vietnamese, and 2.5 million American veterans, may have been exposed to the defoliant. Although the spraying ended 40 years ago, the dioxin from Agent Orange is still wreaking havoc on three generations of victims.

The Leaves Keep Falling is an intimate portrait of two Vietnamese families whose children’s severe disabilities are believed to be linked to their parents’ exposure to the dioxin in Agent Orange. They are among millions of people who continue to suffer the devastating health and environmental consequences of the defoliant. The film takes place outside the city of Da Nang, a “hotspot” where dioxin levels are more than 385 times acceptable levels. Witness the day-to-day struggles of caring for victims of a war that won’t end.

Credits & Awards

Videographer/photographer Ed Kashi and photographer Catherine Karnow traveled to Vietnam in the summer of 2010 to shoot the video and still photographs seen in “The Leaves Keep Falling.”

This film was produced and edited by Julie Winokur/Talking Eyes Media.

Ed Kashi’s portrait of nine-year-old Nguyen Thi Ly was selected as UNICEF’s “Photo of the Year” in 2010. That same photo placed second in the Contemporary Issues category of the 54th annual World Press Photo Contest, widely considered to be the premier competition within photojournalism.

In July 2011, the film was selected for the Artivist Film Festival and received an award in the category of “Environmental Preservation.” In August 2011, the film was selected for the Media That Matters Film Festival and received the organization’s Human Rights Award.  The film had its premiere screening on Oct. 27, 2011 in New York City.


About Ed Kashi and Catherine Karnow

Ed Kashi has dedicated his photographic career to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. Since graduating with a degree in photojournalism from Syracuse University in 1979, he has photographed in over 60 countries. His images and essays have appeared in National Geographic, The New York Times Magazine, Time, Fortune, Geo, Newsweek, and various other domestic and international publications. Born and raised in Hong Kong, the daughter of an American journalist, San Francisco-based photographer Catherine Karnow’s work appears in National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, French & German GEO and other international publications. She has also participated in several Day in the Life series, Passage to Vietnam, and Women in the Material World.

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