News Local/State

Peter McDowell Discusses Documentary Film About His Brother, ‘Jimmy In Saigon’

Jimmy McDowell poses for a photo while serving in Vietnam.

Jimmy McDowell poses for a photo while serving in Vietnam. Provided by the McDowell family

Peter McDowell was only five years old in 1972 when his brother Jimmy died in Saigon, Vietnam. He doesn’t remember too much about his brother, but he remembers the effect his death had on their family in Champaign-Urbana.

That’s one reason he’s making a documentary about his brother, called “Jimmy in Saigon.” Peter McDowell will be in Urbana for an informational and fundraising event for the film this Sunday at Analog Wine Library starting at 4pm.

Illinois Public Media's Brian Moline spoke with McDowell about the project and his brother Jimmy.

"He was sort of a hero to my brothers and sisters as a kid," McDowell said. "Because there were six of us, he was kind of like an adjacent parent to the rest of the family."

Jimmy McDowell served a tour of duty in Vietnam, briefly came home, then returned to Vietnam to live as a civilian before his death, which Peter said happened under mysterious circumstances.

"It was after living in Saigon for about a year as a civilian that he died," McDowell said. "He really went back because he loved the country. He loved the people in general, and he loved specific people as well."

McDowell said he plans to finish the documentary in 2020, and submit it to film festivals for consideration.

"I'll be selecting an editor within the next weeks, and the editor will hopefully begin editing in January," McDowell said. "I do think it will debut in 2021, but it'll be finished in 2020."

You can find details about Sunday's event and McDowell's documentary at the film's website.