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Film Depicts Woes of Gambling Addiction Among Cambodian-Americans

  • Poch Reasey
  • VOA Khmer

Caylee So in an interview with VOA Khmer, Reasey Poch.

Caylee So in an interview with VOA Khmer, Reasey Poch.

“Paulina” portrays the life of a 17-year-old Cambodian-American girl who grows up in a community of gamblers in Southern California.

WASHIGTON - A new film directed by a graduate student of the Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts highlights the problem of gambling in the Cambodian community in Southern California.

Written and directed by Caylee So, “Paulina” portrays the life of a 17-year-old Cambodian-American girl who grows up in a community of gamblers in Southern California.

In an interview with VOA Khmer, Caylee So said she first wanted to make a science fiction film but changed her mind when one day she came across an article about a man with a gambling addiction.

“I read a news article online one day about a man whose brother recently had passed away and upon cleaning up his brother’s belongings, he found these lottery tickets, and he just felt so sad about the fact that his brother was in complete debt all his life,” she said.

The film received funding from the National Council on Problem Gambling and was recently screened in Arlington, Va., near Washington.


Caylee So, who recently won the best female student director award from Director’s Guild of America, said she was nervous about the reaction to the negative topic from the Cambodian community but was relieved when she received positive feedback. “One man came up to me after the screening and said to me that he had a gambling problem and did not know what to do,” she said.

Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council of Problem Gambling, which is based in Washington, told VOA Khmer that gambling addiction is a problem in the Asian community. He urged people to seek help, through the council or other organizations.

“That’s the message we want to send with this film, is that there is a number of places where families, teachers and friends might be able to intervene, might be able to say there’s help available,” he said. “Don’t let this become a problem. If you need help, reach out.”
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