Gongs across borders is documentary film about cultural preservation and survival for Indigenous communities in Vietnam and Cambodia.
At the center of the film, as it has been for the communities themselves, is the musical instrument we know as the Gong.
Indigenous people in both countries are working to ensure that the Gong and all traditional music continues to play its historical role, which is similar to that of the Pipe for Plains Peoples in North America.
A Musician from Non Lec Village in Cambodia explains: “The Gong, is very important because all my ancestors no matter what they faced, they always had Gongs. Every ceremony we must play Gongs for the Spirits. Without Gongs it’s useless to hold the Ceremony. The Gongs speak to the Spirit and represent our Tribe. They are so important that if we lost Gongs it will be like we lost half of our bodies. Gongs are extremely important.”
The same is true for Indigenous communities in Vietnam, who are facing perhaps the more difficult struggle.
In recent generations the communities have found themselves surrounded by outsider culture and identity. As a result, many youth today have no interest in traditional music. Some even sell their Gongs for money.
Not only is the traditional role of the Gong in danger for these communities but also their language, which may be lost in 2 or three generations.
To ensure this does not happen, Elders, community leaders, and other traditionally-minded people are working to revitalize their language, instruct their youth, preserve their cultures, and to make traditional music appealing by integrating it with modern sounds.
As a result of these efforts, hope and confidence is growing for the Indigenous Peoples that their customs and languages will live on for future generations.