Free Film Viewing Scheduled for May 7

By Barb Lang

“Being Hmong Means Being Free,” is a documentary that explores the historical background of the Hmong and their unique religious, social, and cultural customs, and reveals the hardships and discrimination they have endured since their arrival in the United States.

Brought to you as an event of UW-Barron County’s One World Arts, Literature, and Film Festival the film viewing is scheduled for Wednesday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Rice Lake Public Library.  This viewing is open to the public at no charge.  A discussion will follow the film viewing.

When the U.S. withdrew from the Viet Nam War in 1975, approximately 120,000 Hmong were driven from their homeland in Laos by communist forces and forced to re-establish their lives elsewhere. This film explores the immigration of the Hmong between 1975 and 1990s.  Focusing on a Hmong immigrant community in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the historical background of these people and their unique religious, social, and cultural customs are explored.  The narrator of the film is a young teenage girl named Lia Vang who takes viewers along with her to a New Year's festival, a wedding, and a funeral.  The documentary also offers a comprehensive look at many fundamental concepts and practices of the ancient Hmong culture – the “ball toss,” the shaman, clans, and the “flower cloth” – and relates how those traditions have framed the Hmong culture and community. Acknowledging the difficulties that have arisen from trying to follow those traditions in a new country where the language barrier, limited employment opportunities, and xenophobia present everyday challenges, “Being Hmong Means Being Free” explores how dramatically life has changed for Hmong in the space of a generation.

On Saturday, May 10, the One World Festival will conclude with a reading and discussion by Twin Cities author Kao Kalia Yang, author of “The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir.”  She will be the keynote speaker at the Northwest Wisconsin Writer’s Festival at 4:30 p.m. at UW-Barron County in Rice Lake.

Co-sponsored by UW-Barron County and the Rice Lake Public Library, the series is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin.

For more information contact Project Director Lee Friederich, UW-BC professor of English, at or 715-234-8176.


Lee Friederich