Virtual JFK by Koji Masutani

Koji Masutani's “Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Lived” raises the critical question of does it really matter who is President of the U.S.s when it comes to issues of war and peace It explores this question by investigating one of the most debated “what if” scenarios in the history of U.S. foreign policy: What would President John F. Kennedy have done in Vietnam if he had not been assassinated in 1963, and had he been re-elected in 1964 The film employs what Harvard historian Niall Ferguson calls “virtual history,” assessing the plausibility of counterfactuals, “what ifs,” and the outcomes they might have produced.

 

Director's Statement

 

From one end of the globe to another, across one sector to another we face crisis. From the global economy to international menaces, the President must lead the U.S. through thickets that involve complex and difficult challenges.


In matters of international affairs, how do we extricate from the war in Iraq  How do we counter the North Korean nuclear weapon gambit How do we prop up Afghanistan as it melts down, and how is the resurgent Taliban kept at bay


“Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived” is a relevant film that addresses these questions by looking at the way President Kennedy dealt with six deep foreign policy crises (Cuba to Vietnam) without going to war.  Combining footage from numerous Kennedy press conferences, in-depth interviews and a close reading of the documentary record, the film argues that critical decisions about the use of restraint and coercive diplomacy often require greater acts of courage than the use of force, and that character matters greatly in Presidential leadership.


The film has resonated powerfully with audiences in both the pre and post-election climates and provides a critical historical context for understanding the choice that faces Americans every four years.  It takes inspiration from Kennedy's famous statement that “We must never negotiate out of fear, but we must never fear to negotiate,” and invites viewers to draw their own conclusions.

 

Producer-director Koji Masutani was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1981. He spent the majority of his childhood in Hong Kong under British colonial rule before attending a private boarding school in Massachusetts, USA. He received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brown University in 2005 and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies. His short films have screened at the 2004 and 2005 Cannes Film Festivals. He received photography training from internationally acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle (Wong Kar-Wai's “In the Mood for Love” and “2046”).