Silver screen Cambodia
The Killing Fields
Hollywood movies about Cambodia can be counted on one hand. The film that resonates in everyone’s perception of the country is Roland Joffé’s 1984 epic. The incredible performance of Haing Ngor—a doctor by profession—in his first film role won him an Oscar and brought to life the pain and suffering endured by the Cambodian people under the Khmer Rouge. The film won three Academy Awards in total. It should be in everyone’s collection.
http://www.newyearbaby.net/ : Socheata Poeuv’s soul-bearing documentary examines her parents and their survival through the Pol Pot regime. At the heart of the story are decades-old family secrets—to reveal any of them here would be to spoil the poignancy of how the Khmer Rouge drastically affected family life. This is a moving portrayal that brought a lump to my throat, and I’m sure it will do the same to you.
Vann Nath, the most famous survivor of S21 (or Tuol Sleng as its better known), confronts his former jailers and torturers in this astonishing award-winning documentary by Rithy Panh. Reenacting the ghastly crimes committed on over fourteen thousand people that were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered by the Khmer Rouge staff of S21, this film is a chilling look at Cambodia’s darkest years.
It was Daily Mirror journalist John Pilger’s 1979 expose on Cambodia that sparked my interest in this faraway country as I sat in my comfy armchair at home in Cheltenham, England. Pilger’s revelations about the brutality of the Khmer Rouge and the injustices inflicted on the Cambodian people made me sit up, take notice, and embark on a love affair that just grew stronger with time. The film is one of the most influential documentaries of its time, and over $45 million was raised as a result of it. Pilger went on to make another four documentaries about Cambodia.