CTFF Directors Press Release 2014


August 7, 2014: You wake up to the press reports, the news articles, and the online posts that carry the tagline — “Finally, after 35 years…” Right about now you, readers unaware of this benchmark in Cambodian history, are wondering what I am I going on about? Well, you see, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, has finally convicted two of the top Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for over 2 million deaths in one of the biggest genocides in world history.  This verdict has been so long awaited that Khieu Samphan, 83, and Nuon Chea, 88, have lived most of their lives unaccountable for this tragedy.   Maybe that’s what we’re really thinking?  Is it an accomplishment to get this conviction or just another pat in the back – “you can rest in peace, salute to the survivors?”

Regardless of how or what you feel, the verdict couldn’t have been more timely for us at the Cambodia Town Film Festival.  We had just released our line-up; our festival opens with the 2014 Oscar nominated film The Missing Picture, which, whether we know it or not, is significant for all Cambodians in the diaspora.  As members of the 1.5-generation, we have felt and still feel the heavy loss of this history more than our children ever will.  We were born, not here in the States, but somewhere in Cambodia, or maybe one of the refugee camps in Thailand–Vietnam.  We carry and collect the burden and sorrows of our parent’s loss: the “missing pictures” in their lives have been passed down to us.  We imagine what their lives would have looked like if not for the war; we can’t imagine what it is like to lose a whole country.

We cry every time we watch “The Killing Fields,” the most notable and beautiful film depicting this time in our history. Hell, we cry at almost any film that depicts that time in our history.  But my point is this, to those who think we should move past, move on, and leave those memories in our rearview mirrors:  Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, which is, by the way, the title of the closing film at our festival.

These two films — opener and closer — represent a happy accident that makes all the sense in the world to us now.  Faded and lost pictures need to find a way to survive for our history to exist, and if the loss of Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll doesn’t inspire you to create and draw from the past as an example for the future, I don’t know what will.

Last year we toted the tag line: The 1st Cambodian film festival in America, small in size, big in heart.  This year, we’ll just claim the title as the only Cambodian film festival in America.  Reason enough to come.  See you all there!


Caylee So
Cambodia Town Film Festival
Co-Founder, Co-Director

Cambodia Town Film Festival
Co-Founder, Co-Director

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