Thursday, February 19, 2009

A chance to speak

One documentary film that is very relevant to what's been happening this week with the Khmer Rouge trials beginning in earnest is Beth Pielert's Out of the Poison Tree, that gives a voice to victims of the Khmer Rouge and was shot on location in Cambodia and the United States back in 2006. With the trial of Comrade Duch now underway and the involvement of civil parties in a trial of this nature for the first time, it's more important than ever to hear from those who were personally affected. Out of the Poison Tree has never been shown in Cambodia. I've been trying to get that rectified with a screening at Meta House in the next month or so. I'll let you know if I'm successful.

Pielert's hour-long film follows Thida Buth Mam and her sisters' search to unlock the mystery of their father's disappearance in 1975. Her quest allows her to meet many people personally affected by the events of the 'Pol Pot time' and a desire to uncover the truth about what took place and why. These include Youk Chhang, the Director of DC-Cam, Arn Chorn-Pond, Aki Ra, Arun Sothea and the Venerable Yos Hut Khemacaro, while music will be supplied by Long Beach rapper praChly. Thida and her family's story has already been told in two books, authored by JoAn D Criddle under the titles, To Destroy You Is No Loss (published in 1987) and Bamboo & Butterflies : From Refugee to Citizen (published in 1992). She has been a speaker on genocide issues for many years, has appeared on US daytime tv show Oprah and has been a long-time advocate of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. Thida was also featured on Steve McClure's film Rain Falls From Earth.
Filmmaker Beth Pielert with Thida Buth Mam

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