Synopsis

Private McKinley Nolan vanished forty years ago in Vietnam on the Cambodia frontier. Some say he was captured, some say he was a traitor, some even say he was an American operative. The U.S. Army officially claims he was radicalized and “went native,” joined the Viet Cong and was later murdered by the Khmer Rouge. In 2006, retired U.S. Army Lt. Dan Smith, revisiting the battlefields of his youth, may have encountered McKinley, alive. S o begins a journey into the heart of darkness.

The film follows the Nolan family from the cotton belt of Texas, to the battlegrounds of Vietnam, to the killing fields of Cambodia and unfolds a mysterious fever dream filled with doubt, longing and the will to believe. Nolan’s ghost starts out seeming like a nostalgic vision that we want to capture. But, like a will-o-the-wisp or a banshee, he calls us deeper and deeper into the jungle and into the impossible liaisons with Viet Cong and Khmer Rouge. The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan is a mystery, but it’s also, more profoundly, a haunting meditation on war, memory, and love.

Credits
  • Directed by Henry Corra
  • Produced by Celia Maysles, Jeremy Amar and Henry Corra
  • Executive producers: Danny Glover, Joslyn Barnes and David Alcar
  • Executive producer for Naked Edge Films: Jim Butterworth
  • Editors: Kimberley Hassett and Eben Bull
  • Consulting producers: Richard Linnett and Rithy Panh
  • Consulting producer for Naked Edge Films: Daniel J. Chalfen
Reviews/Quotes

“Intimate and beautifully shot, the film takes us on a fugue-like counterpoint between Texas and Cambodia, Vietnam and D.C., families and governments, the grieving and the guilty, loss and acceptance, leaving the audience stunned, moved and profoundly haunted.”

— George Williams, author of Degenerate and Gardens of Earthly Delight

“‘The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan’ is a visceral road-run through a landscape of faces, emotions, pain and war. Michael Nolan is an incredible presence; he fills the screen with his tireless and noble spirit.”

— George Hamilton, actor

Excerpt