WASHINGTON DC - Editor’s note: ‘Lost Loves,’ a feature film by Chhay Bora that describes daily life under the Khmer Rouge, screened this weekend at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Therese Hayes, who heads the Asia section for the festival, says the film is emotionally powerful—and it is unique because it was created in Cambodia by Cambodians. She spoke to VOA Khmer by phone from the festival, in Palm Springs, Calif.
Why did you choose “Lost Loves” as one of the fifteen films from Asian countries this year?
First of all, the subject matter is of great interest because there is no feature made about the Khmer Rouge. There have been some documentaries but nothing is as personal story as this one. However, I had a very difficult time being able to look at the film because I did not have the contact of the filmmaker, and as you know there are very few films coming out of Cambodia.
What do you think of “Lost Loves”?
I think it’s a very moving story and the acting was superior to my expectation. But also I like the fact that he made it so personal. And even though it feels like it’s a small story, it has huge impact. And it’s the kind of film that the audience can resonate with.
This is the first film about what life is really like under the Khmer Rouge. Chhay Bora has shown it around the United States to the Cambodian-American communities. They are very emotional. What about the audience at the Palm Springs International Film Festival? How did they react to it?
I have seen very few films with that many tears at the end of the film. So many people were so moved that they were somewhat speechless. But also he has more offers of help. People want to know how they can help. That is the first for me. Usually I see people who say, ‘I love the film,’ but that was the end of the story. Here they really want to support his efforts.
How does this kind of film help victims—it does not have to be Cambodians—but those who are in similar situations?
Probably the exposure is the first step because a lot of people are not aware of what really happened in Cambodia. And as Bora would say, this story is not unique to Cambodia. It has happened in Rwanda, and it’s probably happening right now in Syria. The best we can do is make people aware; you know, we are not politicians but eventually maybe with the media, we can reach more people and help. I wish I had more answers.
Is there anything else you would like to add about “Lost Loves”?
I think this film should be shown at every university. I wish it could find a distribution, but of course it’s not a commercial film, per se. However, I think it’s a film that needs to be given more exposure. So if there’s any way to find other forms of distribution, I am sure that it will be well received and well rewarded.