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.
Elizabeth Lee
An undated photo released by Bophana Center shows a poster of 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
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 This image released by Strand Releasing shows a scene from "The Missing Picture."
x
This image released by Strand Releasing shows a scene from
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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs