An intriguing but uneven documentary about betrayal and justice, Operation Popcorn too often resembles its title. New plot lines pop up every few minutes, and repetitive bits of hidden camera footage and wiretapped phone conversations keep you munching along but ultimately never feeling full. Director David Grabias is certainly working with interesting material: a group of Hmong-Americans, the trauma of the Vietnam War still fresh in their minds, begin to consider an armed return to Laos some 40 years after they fled as refugees. Among the alleged plotters are polarizing Hmong-American activist Locha Thao and venerated war hero General Vang Pao. When mysterious American partners approach them with weapons and advice on potentially overthrowing the communist Lao government, the Hmong leaders are left wondering whether everything is on the up and up. Operation Popcorn recalls a remarkable true story that flew mostly under the news radar only a few years ago, but it's presented like an episode of "Dateline NBC", long on court evidence and short on deeper analysis. Most compelling are the interviews with Hmong-Americans about how they see themselves as citizens of a country that abandoned them, and Operation Popcorn is arguably worth seeing for these insights alone.
Tuesday, April 14, 7:10pm
Thursday, April 16, 4:00pm
Director: David Grabias
Producers: David Grabias, Anne Edgar
Cinematographer: Howard Shack, Shana Hagan
Editor: Christopher Brannan, Matt Coddaire, Victor Livingston