Silent parents

March 2007 -

Director Socheata Poeuv was born in a refugee camp after her parents escaped from Pol Pot's reign of terror in Cambodia. She grew up in the United States with her brother and two sisters. It was not until she was 25 that her parents told her she was the only child they had together. Her mother had a son from her first marriage and adopted the two daughters of her sister, Poeuv's aunt, orphaned when she died. Poeuv was surprised by their silence. She wanted to know what her parents had experienced in Cambodia. She took them on a trip to their past: the camp they had lived in, the place where her aunt must be buried, and the place where she was born, in a forest where the refugee camp had been. Her parents continue their silence throughout the travels through their homeland. They simply cannot talk about it. Poeuv convinces her father to come along during a visit to a woman who had worked for the Red Khmer, but then he collapses. It is too much for him to bear.


New Year Baby is first and foremost the reconstruction of a personal history. Poeuv sorts out the facts and films the locations where they occurred. The violence she shows that was perpetrated by the Red Khmer seems too familiar. Neither the events nor the characters really come to life, and the film is neither exciting nor touching as a result. The exception, however, is formed by a few of the scenes with her father. In these she clearly shows how this gentle man wrestles with his tormented soul. In these she truly moves the audience.