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Sophia Ngor, Executive Director
Sam Waterston, Honorary President


Cambodia at Cal State L.B.

The short documentary film What I See When I Close My Eyes, directed by Leslie Hope, premiered during a cultural event Saturday at Cal State Long Beach. Cambodia: 32 years After the Killing Fields, is sponsored by Cal State Long Beach s Sociology Department, the Sociology Student Association and the Cambodian Student Society in collaboration with the Dr. Haing S. Ngor Foundation. ( Kevin Chang / Press-Telegram)

Cassidy Kysoth, 9, performs with other members of the Spirit of Khmer Ankgor dance group during a cultural event Saturday at Cal State Long Beach. Cambodia: 32 Years After the Killing Fields was sponsored in part by the school s sociology department and the Sociology Student Association. ( Kevin Chang / Press-Telegram)

 Local: Event reaches out to community with music, dance and documentaries.

By Greg Mellen, Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram

LONG BEACH - Cal State Long Beach on Saturday reached out to the Long Beach Cambodian community and to students who want to learn more about the struggling homeland of so many local residents.

"Cambodia: 32 Years After the Killing Fields," was a one-day presentation of Cambodian music, dance and two short documentary films.

The event began with the soft strains of traditional pinpeat music and concluded with an airing of a film about the run-up to the Khmer Rouge tribunals and an update on the ongoing trials in Cambodia.

The final film, entitled "The Road to Closure," noted that the question of justice for the top members of the Khmer Rouge, charged with crimes against humanity, will only be answered in Khmer hearts.

With the tribunals only now taking their first hesitant and unsteady steps, Saturday's event concluded its road to closure with an open-ended question: If and when justice is found, what next?

While answers still remain to be found, Dr. Leakhana Nou, a sociology professor at Cal State Long Beach, which helped sponsor the program, said part of the event's purpose was to promote dialogue.

"As sociologists, we feel it's important to allow marginalized social groups a voice," Nou said. "This helps us redefine ourselves as refugees rather than just survivors."

Or, as junior sociology student John Guevarra put it, the event may not have been so much about figuring out answers as beginning to understand.

The centerpieces of Saturday's event were two documentary films. One, "What I See When I Dream," premiered just two days after final edits, while "Road to Closure" was filmed in 2006.

"Dream" was a look at how Phnom Penh's street children are being helped by Mith Samlanh Friends-International, which that provides shelter, vocational training, art classes and other services.

Written and produced by actress Leslie Hope and her husband, cinematographer Adam Kane, the film consists almost entirely of children talking about themselves, their lives, their hopes and their dreams.

Their visions range from the heart-breakingly simple dream of a young girl to have soap, to the bold dream of a teenage boy to help drug addicts kick their habit and find work.

Much of the tale is also told through the life-sized portraits the children draw of themselves. Several of the drawings seen in the film were on hand at Saturday's show.

Although Friends-International helps about 1,800 kids per day, there are still an estimated 20,000 children living on the streets of Phnom Penh.

Kane said he and Hope plan to take the film to festivals and raise awareness about street children not only in Cambodia but worldwide.

"This started off as just a fundraising film for Friends," Hope said. "But it turned into 'What happens if you just let them tell their story and just watch?"'

Hope said she learned that what many people want is to "simply be heard."

"The Road to Closure," featuring music by Long Beach's Prach Ly and narrated by actor Jack Ong - master of ceremonies and co-sponsor of Saturday's event - was a documentary by local filmmaker Tiara Delgado.

It traced the history from the rise of the Khmer Rouge, under whose four-year reign about 1.7 million Cambodians died, to ongoing efforts to bring some of that group's leaders to trial.

The film asked Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans about their views of the proposed tribunal.

Because filming concluded before the recent arrests in Cambodia of former Khmer Rouge officials Nuon Chea and Kaing Guek Eav,Delgado and international attorney Sean Butler updated attendees on the shaky status of the oft-delayed and beleaguered tribunal.

Whether the trials will succeed or dissolve still remains to be seen, but Butler said it would be up to Cambodians, both at home and abroad, to take responsibility.

"Justice can't be imposed," Butler said. "The absence of violence is not the same as peace. For peace to happen, it has to be internal and organic."

Greg Mellen can be reached at greg.mellen@presstelegram.com or (562) 499-1291.


CSULB to screen films on Cambodia [-Navy Phim will be signing her book "Reflections of a Khmer Soul"]

Documentaries detail lives of children, efforts to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to trial.

By Greg Mellen, Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram (Long Beach, California, USA)

LONG BEACH - It may be 32 years since the horrors of the so-called Killing Fields in Cambodia were unleashed, but the lessons and the fallout continue.

Today, two documentary films will be screened at Cal State Long Beach as part of an event produced by the Dr. Haing S. Ngor Foundation, " Cambodia: 32 Years After the Killing Fields."

Moderating the day's events will be Jack Ong, executive director and co-founder of the foundation. Dr. Ngor was a Cambodian genocide survivor, author and Academy Award-winning actor for his portrayal of journalist Dith Pran in "The Killing Fields." Ngor was killed outside his home in 1996 by Asian gang members. His foundation continues to provide humanitarian aid in Cambodia, including operating an orphanage.

It is estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died between 1975 and 1979 from executions, starvation and deprivation during the Khmer Rouge reign.

The films, " What I See When I Close My Eyes" and "The Road to Closure" will be aired at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively.

The first movie, by actress Leslie Hope, looks at the lives of street children in Phnom Penh, who are being sheltered, fed and educated by the Friends-International organization. Hope, a popular television actress who played Kiefer Sutherland's wife in the first year of "24," and her actor husband Adam Kane will discuss the film after its airing.

"The Road to Closure" by Tiara Delgado explores reactions from Cambodians at home and in the U.S. about the erratic and oft-delayed attempts to form a tribunal to bring leaders of the Khmer Rouge to trial for crimes against humanity.

The film is one of four Delgado has made about Cambodia. Her first, which she financed with her own money, was called "Fragile Hopes from the Killing Fields" and is a tale of survivor families narrated by Susan Sarandon in 2003.

Delgado's film will be followed by a timely discussion about the unfolding story of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. To date, just two surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge have been charged by the tribunal. Their trials have yet to begin.

The Long Beach event, which will be staged from noon until 5 p.m. at the Student Union Ballroom on the Cal State Long Beach campus, will also feature traditional Khmer pinpeat music, Angkor dancing and a book signing by Long Beach resident and author Navy Phim of her memoir "Reflections of a Khmer Soul."

Admission is free.

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