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US Genocide Film Seeks to Help Healing

An American professor is making a documentary titled "The Genocide Forgotten," and hopes to finish the film next year. He is focusing on ongoing efforts to educate and inform Cambodians, especially young Cambodians, about what happened in the country in the 1970s, and how awareness of history can lead to a national healing.

"I hope that the film will educate worldwide audiences about genocide and about the prevention of genocide," said University of Florida Journalism School professor Tim Sorel, the filmmaker.

Sorel started working on the documentary three years ago and hopes to complete a 50-minute film by next year.

He says he expects to make one more trip to Cambodia for it. Sorel became interested in Cambodia when he traveled there for the first time in 2004, working for an NGO called Sustainable Cambodia, which brings clean water, a literacy project, health care and a food bank to the people of Pursat province.

"When I got there and when I came back to the United States I realized that a lot of US citizens really didn't know all that much about the Pol Pot regime and a whole period of the history," said Sorel. "Then on my second and third trips to Cambodia I also found that there were a lot of young people in Cambodia who didn't understand Cambodia's history as well, and that's how the documentary was born."

Not many Americans understand what took place in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, following the US withdrawal from Vietnam.

"This documentary was not only to educate the US audiences about Cambodia and the plight of the people, now 30 years after the Khmer Rouge, but also to talk a little bit of what is being done to educate people in Cambodia, young people especially about that time period of the history," Sorel said.

While Sorel was making the documentary, the Cambodian people have gone through such extraordinary changes. More so than he thinks any US audience could ever understand.

Sorel also interviewed Khamboly Dy, who recently wrote "A History of Democratic Kampuchea," which will be taught, in some form, in Cambodian high schools as early as 2009.

"It has been a wonderful experience to come here to interview Khamboly in a way of a tremendous young man," Sorel said. "I think he is taking all the correct steps that he needs to take to make sure that young people and all people educate themselves about this time period to help the country heal, and to help the country move forward."