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Sarantidis: The Greek Who Fought in Vietnam

Costas Sarantidis (first right) at the premier screening of the documentary at the sixth Greek Documentary Festival in Chalkida

A documentary on the life of a Greek who fought with the Vietnamese resistance in the first Indochina war against the French has won first prize at the sixth Greek Documentary Festival held in Chalkida, Greece.
Titled Viet Costas: Citizenship Unidentified, the 88-minute-length documentary by noted director Yannis Tritsibidas, stood out among nearly 100 other short and long documentaries at the event, which ended Oct. 14.
Tritsibidas said he admired the revolution by the Vietnamese people against foreign invaders and sympathized with the great sacrifices they made for independence and freedom.
This is why he was so impressed with the life of Costas Sarantidis, a young Greek man, who joined the Viet Minh resistance force in the war against the French (1945-54). Sarantidis, who took the Vietnamese name of Nguyen Van Lap, went to Saigon (now HCM City) as a soldier with the French Foreign Legion. But, from 1946 to 1956, he fled the French to join the Vietnamese People’s Army.
He worked largely as an interpreter for the Vietnamese army in the central region before moving to the north to work in the printing industry following the 1954 Geneva agreement on ending the war in Indochina. He married a Vietnamese woman named Do Thi Chung, who appeared at the premier screening of the documentary. He was given a Friendship Medal and granted Vietnamese citizenship by the Vietnamese government in recognition of his contributions to fostering Greece-Vietnam friendship.
After meeting Sarantidis, director Tritsibidas spared no effort to collect material and meet historical witnesses to make the documentary. The film crew, including Vietnamese French Nicole Pham, shot the first scenes two years ago in both Greece and Vietnam, where people were highly supportive.
Greece’s national television has screened the documentary twice this week so far. The documentary contains priceless images of war-time Vietnam and the late President Ho Chi Minh. The trailer for the documentary can be seen at
“Costas Sarantidis’s life is tied in with the heroic moments of the Vietnamese people,” said Vu Binh, Vietnamese Ambassador to Greece. “He and his children continue to share things with the Vietnamese people. Sarantidis is the Chairman of the Vietnam-Greece Friendship Association.”
(Sources, foto: VNS)

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