Monday, May 13, 2019

Origin Story: A Documentary (2019) directed by Kulap Vilaysack

I knew of Kulap Vilaysack from her appearances and the times she's been mentioned on the podcast Comedy Bang Bang*. When I saw that she had written and directed a documentary about her life (available on Amazon Prime), I was immediately in. I was in no way emotionally prepared for it.

The film opens with a series of illustrations and voiceover in which Vilaysack describes a fight her parents had one night when she was fourteen. She defended her dad, and her mom lashed out and told her that her dad was not her real dad. The film is about her, now in her early thirties, trying to come to terms with not knowing that sooner, of having been lied to, of having been abandoned by her biological father and her attempt to track him down.

Her parents were refugees from the “secret war” in Laos during the Vietnam War period. The film sees Vilaysack have it out with the family she knows, meet family members she doesn’t know and take a trip to Laos to meet/confront her father. It is not a happy film, but it is a satisfying one. Even hearing someone else say essentially the same thing yesterday, I was very surprised at how candid she was in what she revealed. It couldn’t have been easy. The resulting film is well worth watching. To say much more would be to spoil it.


*One sidenote: Vilaysak’s husband Scott Aukerman, host of CBB, has been very tight lipped about his personal life, so it was nice to see that he seems to be a decent guy.

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