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Cambodian Documentary Draws US Praise

"New Year Baby," a documentary by Cambodian-American Socheata Poeuv, was shown last Saturday at the 8th Annual DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival.

The film is a personal quest to learn how the filmmaker's family survived the Khmer Rouge regime and came to be Americans and why her parents hid the truth of that period from her for so many years.

Linda Chan, a Cambodian-American who came to see the film, said she was moved by the story. She herself never told her children about Cambodia. The film changed her mind, she said.

"In the future I would tell them things about Cambodia," Chan said. "In the past I was afraid they wouldn't concentrate in school."

Odom Mony Ngin was born in the United States to Cambodian parents. She came to watch the documentary with her mother and two sisters.

The film was a good reflection of Cambodian society, she said.

"I think this film tells the truth," she said. "It tells a truth that all Cambodian-American families go through. We were born in the United States, but we live in Cambodian families and culture. Sometimes we face this barrier in communicating with our parents. Sometimes it's hard to talk to our parents. We can share this with the filmmaker."

Non-Cambodians, too, found a message in the film.

"I think it's very important that we must confront our past so that we won't forget where we came from," said Brad Daniels, a university student from California.

Socheata Poeuv said she was very excited by the reactions from the audience to her film. "I feel great," she said.

"I feel the audience responded very well. Many people came up and told me that they laughed and they cried during the film. And they had a lot of questions for me after the movie."

Socheata Poeuv has received numerous awards for her documentary. She plans to show the film in Lowell, Mass., and Long Beach, Calif., where many Cambodians live.