News / USA

    Cambodian Americans Relive Khmer Rouge Horrors Through Oscar-Nominated Film

    Cambodian Americans Relive Khmer Rouge Horrors Through Oscar-Nominated Filmi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    March 05, 2014 5:53 PM
    Almost 40 years after the communist Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and embarked on a four-year reign of terror and genocide, many survivors are finally able to talk about it. That includes a film director and others living in the U.S. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
    An undated photo released by Bophana Center shows a poster of "The Missing Picture" directed by Cambodian film director Rithy Panh.An undated photo released by Bophana Center shows a poster of "The Missing Picture" directed by Cambodian film director Rithy Panh.
    x
    An undated photo released by Bophana Center shows a poster of "The Missing Picture" directed by Cambodian film director Rithy Panh.
    An undated photo released by Bophana Center shows a poster of "The Missing Picture" directed by Cambodian film director Rithy Panh.
    Almost 40 years after the communist Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and embarked on a four-year reign of terror and genocide, many of those who survived are finally able to talk about it. That includes a film director whose documentary about the Khmer Rouge received an Oscar nomination - the first for a Cambodian film.

    Some survivors living in the United States say the film brought back painful memories but helps in the healing process.

    Long Beach, California, is home to the largest Cambodian community outside Cambodia.   
     
    Life in the United States is a stark contrast to the life Chan Hopson escaped in Cambodia and depicted in the documentary, The Missing Picture.

    ”When I was watching the film, I relived my life from the beginning to the end," she said. "I saw these people in my village who were killed, died of starvation and were tortured.”

    Hopson was 34 years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power. She says they killed her husband and five brothers.

    “One of my brothers was a technician at the airport at the air force, so this is a crime," she said. "So they killed him alive by hold his feet, tie his feet and throw him in the pit alive.”   

    Memories of what happened almost 40 years ago are also imprinted in Sam Keo’s mind. He was 18 and suffered from starvation.

    “I remember that I found eight or 10 rats who were just born, still red," he said. "I was still hungry, I ate that alive, just to survive.”

    Keo, a clinical psychologist, helps Cambodian Americans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.  He says many survivors feel guilt for being alive. He too lived with it for many years after his brother died.

    “My mother asked me for a little bit of rice of mine to give to my little brother who was sick, and I need to go to work," he said. "I want that little rice. I said 'No, I need to keep for myself.' And she said 'If you don’t give to him, he’s going to die.'  And when I came back, he surely died.”

    FILE - Cambodian director Rithy Panh waves as he poses during a photo call, Oct. 24, 2008.FILE - Cambodian director Rithy Panh waves as he poses during a photo call, Oct. 24, 2008.
    x
    FILE - Cambodian director Rithy Panh waves as he poses during a photo call, Oct. 24, 2008.
    FILE - Cambodian director Rithy Panh waves as he poses during a photo call, Oct. 24, 2008.
    As painful as it is to recall what happened, The Missing Picture director Rithy Panh says it's important do so.

    “The genocide is not only killing," said Panh. "The genocide is also the destruction of the identity of your dignity. Where the Khmer Rouge destroyed dignity, we must rebuild dignity there.  Where the Khmer Rouge destroyed identity, you must bring back identity there.”  

    Panh says it's important for all future generations to remember what happened.

    “It’s not about Cambodia only, it’s about the whole world because when you know somewhere that the dignity of the people is threatened or destroyed it concerns you also,” he added.

    This image released by Strand Releasing shows a scene from "The Missing Picture."This image released by Strand Releasing shows a scene from "The Missing Picture."
    x
    This image released by Strand Releasing shows a scene from "The Missing Picture."
    This image released by Strand Releasing shows a scene from "The Missing Picture."
    Many Cambodian survivors in the U.S. say the film is a reminder that they are not alone in suffering from the memories of what happened. Chan Hopson tries to bring that message to the men, women and children in her community.

    “I think that God persecuted me to I can see the pain and suffering so I can dedicate my life to save the children to enrich the children to give them a better future at the same time to help my people to heal,” she said.

    To heal from their painful history so they are freed from the traumas of the past and can embrace a cultural identity that is also filled with beauty.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora