Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Finding Face

Hats off to local newspaper The Cambodia Daily today with a couple of stories that caught my attention and which deserve a quick mention. The first is a new documentary film that will open today for its premiere at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva, titled Finding Face. It's all about the case of teenage karaoke video star Tat Marina, who was doused in acid during an attack at the end of 1999. It cites the story of Marina's years of plastic surgery and her decision to never return to Cambodia, while the film also focuses on the spate of other attacks on women in the months that followed. No-one has ever been brought to justice for the attack on Marina. Skye Fitzgerald and his wife Patti Duncan created the 80-minute documentary but have no plans to show it in Cambodia for fear of reprisals against some of its subjects who still live here. Find out more at Spin Films. Fitzgerald's previous focus on Cambodia was in his 2007 film Bombhunters, whilst Tat Marina's story was also used as the basis for the graphic novel Shake Girl, which you can read about here.

Next up was the front cover lead of a story that never seems to go away, or come to fruition. It's Nhem En again, the guy who took the face photos of the ill-fated Tuol Sleng prisoners on arrival at S-21 during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia's late '70s, and who now wants to build a museum documenting the Khmer Rouge using his own pictures. He's bought the land for his project which he will host in the former KR stronghold of Anlong Veng, where he is deputy governor and the museum will house his personal photos from 1975 up until 1998, though his S-21 pictures will not be used, which seems ill-advised to me. He's on the hunt for money of course, which sounds like a never-ending record in his case, claiming that a simple prototype museum which he wants to complete by the year end will cost him $50K out of his own pocket. You may recall that a film about him, The Conscience of Nhem En by director Steven Okazaki, was recently in the running for the best short documentary Oscar. When I see comments like, "the world should thank me for my work," and "everything I did was just following the regime's orders," alongwith his view that his photos are the reason that the world cares one jot about Cambodia and the suffering it went through, I get very annoyed that he gets so many column inches and then realise that I've just done exactly the same as the newspapers...duh!

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Anonymous Aspara said...

I read about the film too, and it leaved me behind touch.
And all the story’s about Acid Attacks I read before and than in Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily come into my mind. Make me sad. But than I think at the work people doing at Acid Survivors Center in Phnom Penh, giving the victims bake there carriage and hope for the future.
I hope the move will get a lot of attention and I hope the people in Cambodia in itself will understand more about the victims and include them, and not exclude - like know – into their society!

March 13, 2009 at 2:42 PM  

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