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Cambodian Son

Directed by Masahiro Sugano


Cambodian Son captures the inspirational story of Kosal Khiev’s journey from prisoner in America to world-class poet in Cambodia. The documentary follows Kosal’s life after receiving the most important performance invitation of his career—to represent the Kingdom of Cambodia at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Kosal would travel to London having only taken two flights prior— first, as a 1-year-old refugee child whose family fled Cambodia, and then as a 32-year-old criminal “alien” forcibly returned to Cambodia in 2011. The film allows a close look at a volatile, yet charming and talented, young man who struggles to find his footing amongst a new freedom that was granted only through his deportation. Kosal’s London representation is a triumphant moment for many people in his life, both in America and Cambodia—an experience that had immense impact and significance for Kosal, his friends, family, mentors and a growing international fan base. Armed only with memorized verses, he must face the challenges of being a deportee while navigating his new fame as Phnom Penh’s premiere poet. The local buzz and excitement increases as Kosal’s friends begin to pull together a send off party fit for a king. As the pressure to perform builds, Kosal begins to deteriorate. A dramatic series of events nearly prohibits him from ever stepping onto the London stage. From teaching literacy at a Cambodian dumpsite to performing at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Kosal soon realizes with his new freedom comes great responsibility. After the performances end and the London stage becomes a faint memory, Kosal is once again left alone to answer the central question in his life: “How do you survive when you belong nowhere?”


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Film Information

APR 25 @ 5:30PM

  • Location Bright Family Screening Room
  • Running Time 90 Minutes
  • Year 2013
  • Format Color, DVD
  • Language English