During the time the Khmer Rouge was in power, from April 17, 1975, to Jan. 9, 1979, more than 1.7 million Cambodians perished. The Khmer Rouge especially targeted intellectuals and artists for execution, as they sought to create an agrarian ideal.
Few escaped, but among those who did was an award-winning filmmaker named Tea Lim Koun, who fled Cambodian in 1971, while the Khmer Rouge was still a countryside guerrilla movement.
In an exclusive interview with VOA Khmer, Tea Lim Koun discusses his filmmaking in the 1960s and 1970s and what it meant to leave it behind.
“If you were to ask me how I feel about losing my studio and other material things, I would tell you that I am regretful,” he said. “I still have both hands and both feet, so I could rebuild that. But I am really regretful that our nation lost so many artists, including many movie stars and singers. You can’t buy them back with money, no matter how much you have.”
VOA Khmer is airing the interview as a five-part series, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh.