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For Cambodian refugees, film seeks to 'break the silence'

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Michael Siv, director of the documentary Dayz of Justice, fled Cambodia as a child with his mother during the Khmer Rouge regime and settled in northern California. Later, he returned with survivors who testified at the tribunals for perpetrators of the genocide.
Dorian Merina/KPCC
Michael Siv, director of the documentary Dayz of Justice, fled Cambodia as a child with his mother during the Khmer Rouge regime and settled in northern California. Later, he returned with survivors who testified at the tribunals for perpetrators of the genocide.

The film follows a group of U.S.-based survivors of the Khmer Rouge as they return to their homeland to testify in the genocide trials. For a new generation, justice is complicated.

In Cambodia, the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s sent tens of thousands of refugees fleeing a torn countryside. After years in refugee camps in Thailand the Philippines, many settled in California.

Decades later, efforts at justice are still ongoing.

"Growing up, not knowing what happened exactly and not having this dialogue between my mom or my dad or the community, I felt isolated," said Michael Siv, a refugee who fled the country as a child with his mother and whose family was split in the chaos of war.

As a teen growing up in San Francisco, his family's experience was shrouded in mystery for him, he said, as they did their best to recover from the trauma of a war that killed an estimated 2 million people.

"It's something that has to be talked about – not just with myself or my mom – but as a whole, as a community," said Siv.

Siv joined a group of survivors as they returned to Cambodia to participate in the UN-backed tribunals that aims to bring accountability and justice to the perpetrators of crimes during that period. Siv turned that experience into a documentary film, called Daze of Justice.

"I hope this film can start some sort of a dialogue," said Siv. "It's an opportunity to tell a different story. A story about speaking up, a story about breaking silence."

The film shows Tuesday evening in Los Angeles as part of the LA Lift-Off Festival, a five-year-old festival that seeks to celebrate and promote independent filmaking from the U.S. and abroad.



What: Premiere of "Dayz of Justice," at the LA Lift-Off Festival



When: Tuesday 6th September, 7-9.30pm



Where: Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave



More info: http://www.lift-off-festivals.com/los-angeles-lift-off-film-festival-2016/

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