The 17th Parallel, marked by the river BÁªn Hai, is the imaginary line tracing the border between North and South Vietnam, a "demilitarized area" which was under continuous and devastating bombings during the war. The peasants' life in the province of Vinh-Linh, the main village on the border, is deeply affected by the hard conditions imposed by the conflict. But the energy of the people, forced to hide in caves, and their participation in the liberation struggle, give them the awareness and dignity necessary to drive the invaders back.This film, probably the best known and most important documentary on the Vietnam war, was shot by Ivens over a period of two months in an inaccessible area (he could reach thanks to the pressures of HÁ´ Chi Minh, who knew the director very well) at the risk of losing his life. With The 17th Parallel Ivens abandons the refined style of a traditional documentary and turns to the 16mm direct sound-take. This handy format made it easier to shoot in difficult conditions and increased the possibility, dear to Ivens, of letting people speak directly without any commentary.