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Film Portrays Cambodian AIDS Orphans

An award-winning Cambodian-American TV producer is bringing the reality of AIDS to his fellow countrymen in the United States through a documentary film he made in Cambodia earlier this year.

Veteran NBC producer Peter Chhun followed the victims of the deadly disease in Cambodia and listened to their stories for three months. The result is a 63-minute film "Life Under Red Light."

Chhun, who started working for NBC in 1970, says he initially got the idea of making a documentary film on AIDS in January when he met with the Long Beach Health Department.

"The Long Beach Health Department told me there are some families in the Cambodian community who are living with AIDS," he told VOA Khmer. "So I started thinking about what kind of program to help educate our Khmer people in Long Beach."

Chhun told the Long Beach Press Telegram last month that he wanted to make a movie on HIV/AIDS in the Long Beach area but was unable to find any Cambodian-Americans who would come out.

"So I said I would go to Cambodia and talk to our Khmer people and let them explain their pain and suffering," he said. "Maybe our Khmer people in the United States would listen."

Two months later, in March, Chhun was in Cambodia shooting the documentary, thanks to NBC, which let him use network camera and other equipment, free of charge, for shooting.

"Life Under Red Light" has so far only been shown to the doctors and health workers at St. Mary Medical Center, in Long Beach.

Chhun said he plans to show the documentary to the Cambodian community in Long Beach at Cal State Long Beach in the near future. Eventually he wants to make the film available to the public.

Chhun is very involved in both the Cambodian community in Long Beach and in Cambodia. He is the founder of Hearts without Boundaries, a non-profit organization that sends doctors to Cambodia to perform surgeries.

Chhun will lead taking a group of 20 American doctors to Cambodia from Oct. 15 to Oct. 22, to Siem Reap, to provide free heart surgery.