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

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Multimedia Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen 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.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs