Riding the Tiger

A documentary essay

34 minutes, 16mm and video

by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson

Distributor: UC Extension Center for Media and Independent Learning


Riding the Tiger is an elegy which evokes the hubris, despair and devastation of the American war in Vietnam. Footage of the war-- both gorgeous and chilling-- moves from the midst of ground combat to bombing runs miles above implacably lush jungle terrain. Graveyards of B-52s and Huey choppers speak to the ambition and failure of the war machine, and the voices of GIs, villagers and journalists add human counterpoint to the remarkable images on screen. Not a treatise, not a polemic, but an artful reminiscence that makes eloquent sense of a dark and troubling time.

Produced, directed, and edited by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
Cinematography by Jon Else
Original Music by Chris Chafe

Festivals, Screenings and Awards
Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, New York
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley
Black Maria Film and Video Festival, Jurors' Choice Award (First Prize),
Black Maria national tour
Portland International Film Festival
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
UNA Film Festival
Ann Arbor Film Festival
Washington DC Environmental Film Festival
Doubletake Documentary Film Festival
Houston International Film Festival, Gold Special Jury Award
UCLA Documentary Salon, Los Angeles
The Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco
Festival Internacional Curtas Metragens, Vila do Conde, Portugal
Mostra Internazionale del Cortometraggio di Montecatini, Italy
Wine Country Film Festival, Robert & Margrit Mondavi Film Prize
Santa Cruz Documentary Film Festival
Documental, Los Angeles
BBC British Short Film Festival, London
Mill Valley Film Festival
KTEH Public Television
Semana Internacional de Cine de Valladolid, Spain
Savannah Film Festival
, Best Documentary
Mannheim International Film Festival
Mostra Internacional de Cinema, Sao Paolo, Brazil

Hawaii International Film Festival
International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg, Germany
Mostra Curta Cinema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Stuttgart, Germany
Mikrokino Fest, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
International Film Festival of Kerala, India
One World Film Festival, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Best of One World Film Festival Tour, Czach Republic and Slovakia
Palm Beach International Film Festival
Internationales Dokumentarfilm Festival Munchen, Germany
Florida Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize
Vermont International Film Festival
Nominee: ABC News/Videosource Award, International Documentary Association, 2000.

Filmmakers' Bios
Kristine and John's other collaborative projects include The World As We Know It (2002, 16mm, color); a short made in response to 9/11 and our spiral into warfare, Empire of the Moon (1991, 16mm B&W), a poetic reflection on tourism in Paris; and Wrong Place, Wrong Time (1987, 16mm color), about a young art student who was the victim of a random street killing. Kristine has worked in the film industry in various capacities for twenty-eight years. She has made numerous other films, including Arthur and Lillie (co-producer/director), which was nominated for an Academy Award. She is also Chair of the Department of Communication at Stanford University, where she is a professor in the Documentary Film and Video Graduate Program. John has worked for twenty years as a location sound mixer on all types of productions, from commercials to features, but primarily on documentaries (e.g. Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt , Sing Faster: The Stagehands' Ring Cycle, Cadillac Desert). He has taught locally and overseas, written for documentaries (Freedom Machines), and has shot and is producing a film on conservation in Suriname.

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