Arn Chorn Pond survived a brutal child labor camp under the Khmer Rouge by retreating into music, playing when he could his flute, despite working from 5 am to midnight each day.
A new documentary, "The Flute Player," which showed recently in Maryland, is a look into Arn Chorn Pond's music as well as his childhood and adult worlds.
Born into a Battambang family of performers and musicians, Arn Chorn Pond told VOA Khmer he was one of 500 children working at the Wat Aik labor camp following the Khmer Rouge takeover.
The children were separated from their parents and worked miserable hours, but Arn Chorn Pond said he found a way to cope: playing the flute.
"Even in these horrible conditions, I found a way to survive," he said. "I played the flute. I escaped death by execution and starvation by playing my flute for camp guards, and after Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1979, I managed to reach a refugee camp in Thailand."
Arn Chorn Pond has since established a number of projects and organizations that help victims of war, including the Master Performers Program to preserve Cambodia's musical heritage.
Arn Chorn Pond will now continue on a global tour, promoting the film, and peace, in Japan, England, Australia and India.