In Detail

WE WANT (U) TO KNOW is a call to action for people in Cambodia to work together towards justice and healing in wake of Cambodia's violent past. Created through a participatory approach, Khmer Rouge survivors and their descendants designed, filmed and co-directed this documentary to share their stories with wider audiences around Cambodia and the world. The international film team, led by Ella Pugliese, defined themselves merely as facilitators of the production process.

The film has to be understood as a tool for NGOs and for the civil society in the framework of the outreach activities around the Khmer Rouge Trial, an historical moment for the country.

Thnol Lok: Khmer Rouge Reenactment © Leah Roth-HoweThnol Lok: Khmer Rouge Reenactment © Leah Roth-Howe

Goal of the project is to inspire collective action towards reconciliation at community level and introduce video storytelling and art workshops in the public discourse as instruments of trauma intervention. The primary target of the film is the rural Cambodian people, who do not have access to information about their own history or about what is happening in the country right now.

The film therefore goes far beyond the usual concept of documentary film making through the active involvement of ordinary rural Cambodian people as well as Cambodian civil society organisations in all stages of the filmmaking process.

Constant feedback-loops, i.e. screenings of preliminary filming material in rural communities accompanied by group discussions on the content and presentation of the filming material, ensured the participation and active involvement of a wider rural Cambodian community. The film has been produced in close collaboration with Cambodian NGOs that are engaged in outreach activities towards justice and reconciliation after the Khmer Rouge. From the cinematographic point of view this implies the development of a simple (non intellectualistic) film language out of all the meetings, discussions, shared experience between the international film team, the NGOs staff and the Cambodian citizens who took part to the project.

Thnol Lok: Children of the village © Leah Roth-HoweThnol Lok: Children of the village © Leah Roth-Howe

With this innovative approach, unique to the Cambodian context, this documentary film has reached his primary objective, the participatory production of a culturally appropriate film targeted to a Cambodian audience. Meanwhile, a number of international filmmakers, anthropologists, human rights activists, as well as the expatriated Cambodians around the world have expressed their interest in the unique approach and final outcome of this film project. The film “We want (U) to know” will therefore be presented to the international audience around the world.