Film Shows Power of Love During KR Years

A 1996 film that documents a true story of love in the time of the Khmer Rouge now has a chance to teach Cambodia’s young­er generation about Khmer his­tory and the power of love.

The film, titled “Bophana,” was written by renowned Cambo­dian director Rithy Panh.

It has been shown in many French cities, but never before in Cam­bodia, said Sopheara Chey, director of the Tuol Sleng Geno­cide Museum.

Now the film can be seen for free twice daily at Tuol Sleng.

“If young people watch it, it will educate them about the truth of history that they need to understand,” said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cam­bo­dia.

“Bophana” follows the true story of a couple imprisoned to­gether at the S-21 prison, now the genocide museum, where more than 20,000 people were imprisoned, tortured and executed.

In 1975, Hout Bophana was separated from her husband, Ly Sitha. A former monk, he was sent away to serve as a Khmer Rouge cadre and she was forced to work in the fields in Baray district, Kompong Thom province.

The two exchanged heartbreaking letters.

“Why have you been away so long?” Hout Bophana wrote to Ly Sitha. “I know working for the Angkar keeps you very busy. But every day I live in Baray, I lose a year of age.”

Ly Sitha responded: “No longer write to me, my dear. I am going to go crazy. I want to have news of you. I know the sea of your tears. But just wait—our world is changing.”

In 1978, the lovers were reuni­ted at S-21, and they were both killed that year.

“The film shows that the couple were very loyal to each other, but they were separated by the Khmer Rouge and forced to work hard in different areas,” Sopheara Chey said.

The one-hour movie is in Khmer with English subtitles. It is  shown every day at 10 am and 3 pm. The Documentation Cen­ter also has plans to cooperate with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to show it at schools in eight provinces.

“The film made me very sad,” said William Dew, visiting Cam­bo­dia for the first time from the US state of Arizona.

“We must never allow something like that to happen again. We need to have a democratic society and freedom so the younger generation…can be intelligent and strong.

“It is important to educate the young generation to understand about powerful leaders who are too cruel and make very bad de­cisions.”


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