DOCUTAH film ‘Thao’s Library’ bonds sisters beyond borders

ST. GEORGE – Born out of grief but ultimately continuing with great hope and purpose, “Thao’s Library” is a documentary film from director, filmmaker and philanthropist Elizabeth Van Meter that tells the story of sisterhood and healing – and finding both in the unlikeliest of places.

“Thao’s Library” will screen twice during the DOCUTAH film festival. The film will be shown Thursday at 4:10 p.m. on the Eccles Main Stage at Dixie State University in St. George and again on Friday at 6:35 p.m. in the Sears Gallery at DSU.

The story has its beginnings with the untimely death of Van Meter’s younger sister, acclaimed child pilot Vicki Van Meter, a loss that had Elizabeth Van Meter reeling in grief and dealing with deep depression, she said.

Read more: Local family, NYC actress tell story of tragedy, triumph: ‘The Purpose Project’

It was during that time that Elizabeth Van Meter was shown a photograph of Thao, a young Vietnamese woman who was born with severe life-threatening birth defects as a result of Agent Orange poisoning.

Thao was posing by a makeshift library and had made a simple request: All she wanted was $300 to buy more books for her library.

That image and her simple request haunted Elizabeth Van Meter, she said, adding that she believed Thao had something that she wanted or wanted to be part of, and she knew they had to connect.

The documentary film, which chronicles Elizabeth Van Meter’s journey to Vietnam to bring Thao more books, made its debut at the Bentonville Film Festival – a film festival co-founded by Academy Award winning actress Geena Davis where it took home the “Audience Award,” Elizabeth Van Meter said.

Elizabeth Van Meter is excited to bring her film to DOCUTAH because of her special connection with St. George, she said. Her parents live here, and Southern Utah is where she came after her trip to Vietnam, to be among the red rocks and to find the story of the film.

DOCUTAH tickets are $7 for a day pass and can be purchased at the box office at the Dixie State University Cox Auditorium, 225 S. 700 East in St. George, or at the DSU Eccles Fine Arts Center, 155 S. 700 East in St. George.

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