I started making New Year Baby out of a curiosity about my family’s history. At that stage it was still a “glorified home video.” The film soon grew bigger out of a desire to share the story as widely as possible because I believed it was a powerful story that could inspire, entertain and bring new a consciousness to audiences. Before finishing the film, what I became most interested in is how this film can be used in the world.
There is a culture of silence surrounding the Cambodian genocide. And we’re taking steps to break that silence. Here in America, all to often, Cambodian parents don’t tell their children about what happened to them during the Khmer Rouge time. Understandably, they feel a desire to protect their children and themselves. But the cost of this silence is that the next generation and further generations may not truly understand their legacy. And neither will the world.
This phenomenon is even more pronounced in Cambodia where schools don’t really teach the Khmer Rouge history. The generation born after the genocide has a hard time believing what happened to their parents.
This year, a UN tribunal to prosecute the Khmer Rouge has started. My hope is that we take this opportunity to really engage the country and the survivor community in a process of healing and education.
I believe that Cambodians have a responsibility to teach the larger world about the impact of these kinds of catastrophes. Without understanding the human costs, we do not really understand the legacy of war and mass atrocities at all. But first, we must speak the truth ourselves.
New Year Baby, and my new project, Khmer Legacies, are both about taking a conversation of shame and denial and transforming it into one of honor and heroism. — Socheata Poeuv
Socheata Poeuv, Producer/Director
Socheata Poeuv is the CEO of Khmer Legacies, an organization whose mission is to create a video archive about the Cambodian genocide. Khmer Legacies has a goal of videotaping the testimonies of thousands of Cambodian survivors, having children interview their parents. Poeuv was selected as a 2007 Echoing Green Fellow and is a Visiting Fellow at the Yale University Genocide Studies Program. She co-founded Broken English Productions in New York City and worked on the staff at NBC News Dateline and with ABC News World News Tonight Weekend and NBC News Today. Poeuv graduated cum laude with a B.A. in English literature from Smith College in 2002 and studied for a year at Hertford College, Oxford.
Jason Bolling, Producer
Charles H. Vogl, Co-Producer