Press Resources

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Reviews and viewer feedback

“Beautiful, poignant film. I was very moved by it.”
— Composer and performer Meredith Monk

What critics are saying…

“Handsomely filmed… it has the feel of a detective story. It will grab you.”
— Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune (Online // PDF)

 “Family truths can be hard to unearth, especially when war is involved. Peter McDowell’s brave search for his family’s long-buried secrets transforms his life and illuminates ours through the sheer poetry and unflinching candor of “Jimmy in Saigon.” This hushed, hauntingly beautiful film disarms and enlightens us, proving that the ghosts of war and peace can be found and spoken to, for McDowell has captured them here.”
— Howard Reich, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, author, arts critic

“Intriguing … beautiful … Searching for the truth about his brother’s mysterious death, Peter McDowell creates a compassionate picture…”
Tara Judah, Screen Daily

“Powerful [story] about family, the LGBTQ community, and unconditional love. …
In a time of pandemic, war and what often appears as irreconcilable political differences, we could all use a reminder that stories about family and love — stories that many of us can relate to, irrespective of who we are, where we came from or what we believe — have the power to bring people together.”
Camille Escovedo, Sonoma Magazine

“A loving eulogy, [and a] deeply personal journey of healing. An assured documentary debut embedded in a love that never died, and a need to remember, understand and celebrate a sibling who kept his life and loves hidden from those he left behind.”
— Neil Baker, Cinerama

“A loving, engaging, and sympathetic story which moves from a picturesque 50s American family to a struggling man alone and hiding the truth from his family, and the brother who refuses to let go of his memory. A testament to how we pay respect to lost loved ones.”
— Rebecca Cherry, Film Carnage

“This touching feature-documentary is astonishingly tightly edited. …
McDowell spent 15 years researching, and every minute of his quest is felt in this film, which has pace, style, and an incredibly large heart.”
Adam Bloodworth, City A.M.

“Standout film. … Intensely personal [with] a great soundtrack and clever use of animation. Ultimately, it celebrates a short but powerful life. … Highly recommended.”
Ris Fatah, Queerguru

“A spellbinding detective story. … Jimmy in Saigon is one of the heart-wrenching gems of Frameline46, not to be overlooked.”
Brian Bromberger, Bay Area Reporter



QCNews – Linda Cook reviews Jimmy In Saigon screening at the Figge Art Museum

“Loss, identity and the Vietnam War are among the themes that run through “Jimmy in Saigon,” a superb documentary from 2022 that’s part of the Figge Art Museum series of four award-winning LGBTQ+ films….In a compelling film that’s part mystery, part biography, director/screenwriter Peter McDowell unravels the 50-year-old mystery of his brother Jimmy’s death in 1972 in Saigon. It’s one of the most personal and moving documentaries I’ve ever seen.”
Linda Cook, QCNews

KWQC – Jimmy In Saigon featured on KWQC-TV’s “Quad Cities Live” show

KPBS – Andrew Dyer featured JIS in their GI Film Festival overview

FOX 5 – Delaney White featured JIS in their GI Film Festival overview

SF Chronicle – Pam Grady featured JIS in their Frameline overview

SF Examiner — James Ambroff-Tahan featured JIS in Frameline overview — 6/13
(also featured in print edition)


Town & Style Saint Louis – 6/3/23

East Bay Express – Kelly Vance reviewed – 6/15


The Ryan Tubridy Show — While in Dublin for GAZE International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, Peter McDowell was a guest on The Ryan Tubridy Show — 9/30/22

Dennis Anyone — Dennis interviewed Peter McDowell
ahead of screening at Frameline Festival — 6/16/22

Outbeat Radio / KRCM
Gary Carnivele interviewed Peter for coverage that ran head of Frameline
(Interview available here; occurs at 6:45-29:53)

Sports Byline — Rick Tittle and Jan Wahl interviewed Peter McDowell
on 6/17 live, ahead of screening at Frameline Festival (available to listen to here)


BBC News Vietnamese – Hai Di Nguyen interview with Peter McDowell on 10/19/22

INTO – Emma Ambrose reviewed on 06/15

Queer Forty — Kevin Thomas featured JIS in Frameline overview


“Delighted to have attended the world premiere of Jimmy in Saigon. Love when stories move you deeply, creating a communion between creator and viewer. …
Not only a tribute to the eldest of the McDowell brothers, but a story of necessary visibility: a memorial to a love once forbidden and forgotten, an act of justice to so many hidden stories that could not be told.”
— Dan Olm

“An emotional and compassionate tale of exploring grief… Loved it.”
— Paul Giggal

“[A] personal highlight [at the BFI Flare Festival].”
Dan Murphy

“Powerful and moving.”
— Rakshita Patel

“Very lucky to have seen Jimmy in Saigon. Such a powerful and provocative portrait of a life and love lost, that says so much about so many things in its gradual unfolding.
A must see.”
— Christopher Sherwood

“Family, memory, love, conflict, and compassion. Brilliant and moving.”
— Reverend Dr. Ayla Lepine

“Fabulous American documentary. Moving journey…”
— Beatrice Colbrant

“Very good. A moving investigation into a brother’s life lost too early, a relationship left hidden—but done without sentimentality or self-obsession”
— Josh Spero

“We’re only as sick as our secrets. A traumatic event finds a family in stress-response mode for almost 50 years. Flight, fight, or freeze when it all gets too close. Jimmy in Saigon nobly intends to solve the mystery of a sibling’s death in Việt Nam. It ends up unexpectedly doing so much more. Peter McDowell gifts his family and the viewer with an opportunity to heal unresolved trauma. Lifting a toxic veil of shame off the memory of his older brother and insisting that Jimmy be allowed the dignity of his own path, Peter manifests an act of grace and compassion that changes everything. I’m so glad this film exists. The musical score is exquisite.”
— Thomas Dunning