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 "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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.

The Flying Greek

Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid