Segments in this Video

Cambodian in Montreal (05:53)


In her Quebec neighborhood, Thida, a second generation Cambodian immigrant, pays tribute to her late brother. Following in his footsteps, she travels to Cambodia to learn of her family's tragic past.

Thida's Family History (03:33)

Thida arrives in the city of Phnom Penh, and realizes that every local over 40 lived through the Khmer Rouge. Her father was able to flee the country, but her mother was a prisoner.

Survivors of the Khmer Rouge (05:01)

Thida meets up with a childhood friend of her father's, who survived Khmer Rouge purges by concealing his identity. He shows her the location of the Cambodian mass graves, and explains the complicated history of the Khmer Rouge.

Survivors of S-21 Prison (06:49)

S-21 was a school converted by the Khmer Rouge into a prison complex that killed around 17,000 prisoners. One of only seven known survivors takes Thida on a tour of the prison to tell his story.

Trial of Comrade Duch (05:26)

In 2009, United Nations backed trials of former Khmer Rouge officials began in Phnom Penh. The former director of S-21 Prison, "Duch," stands trial for his role in the Cambodian genocide.

Life Under the Khmer Rouge (06:01)

Thida meets with her uncle in Phnom Penh, who also returned to Cambodia to untangle the past. Together, they visit rural villagers to learn the perspectives of survivors that never left Cambodia.

Cooperation with the Khmer Rouge (05:29)

In order to survive, Cambodians were forced to cooperate with the Khmer Rouge regime. Survivors still grapple with their culpability in the Khmer Rouge's crimes against its own people. Thida visits a memorial in a cave to pay her respects to victims.

Remnants of the Khmer Rouge (06:26)

Thida and her uncle travel towards the Thai border, where the Khmer Rouge took refuge after the fall of the regime. The last of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in 1999 and were offered a general pardon. They meet with family members that were formerly part of the Khmer Rouge that Sammono met before.

Landmines in Cambodia (07:07)

Thida struggles with the fact that members of her own family were on opposite sides. Landmines were deployed extensively during the war, and continue to impact rural Cambodia. Thida visits a village where almost everyone has lost a limb to landmines that are still dangerous decades later.

Bridging the Generational Gap (08:15)

Thida continues to follow her brother Sammono's route through Cambodia, reflecting on her experiences. In a rural village, she meets her oldest uncle, who passes on knowledge that was lost during the war to the next generation.

Reflecting on Cambodia (08:41)

Duch's attorney, Francois Roux, challenges the court to recognize Duch's humanity. Thida's uncle reflects on his country's history and why he returned to Cambodia. Thida herself reflects on her journey, and how it has changed her.

Credits: Shadows Within (03:17)

Credits: Shadows Within

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Cambodians over the age of 40 are all survivors of the great national trauma that was Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. A quarter of the population did not survive. After her brother’s death, Thida, a young Quebecer whose parents survived the red regime, travels to the land of her ancestors in order to understand what lies behind the Malay family. Her trip to Cambodia coincides with a trial, sponsored by the United Nations, of five former Khmer Rouge that plunges the country into the heart of its deepest wounds. Despite the difficulty of talking about these years of fear and submission, she meets people who open ever so slightly and with much emotion to this young woman who is trying to understand what horror comes from the venom that has "poisoned" her family and injured her parents forever. “It looks,” she says, “as if the survivors, the former tormentors, and the generations that follow continue to be victims of this human atrocity. And I feel strangely at my place among them.” Among the visits to historic sites and moving encounters with survivors (including one of seven survivors of the infamous prison S-21), Thida meets two of her uncles—one who did not experience the Khmer Rouge regime and partially accompanies his niece on her journey, and the other who in his own way is seeking to rekindle his country’s national dignity.

Length: 72 minutes

Item#: BVL150295

ISBN: 978-1-64347-805-0

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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