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Documentary New Year Baby Enlightens Students on Cambodian Genocide

Tyler Stinson

Staff Writer 

On Monday, Oct. 3, Springfield College welcomed first-time film director Socheata Poeuv for a viewing of her renowned documentary, New Year Baby. Dr. Carol E. Mitchell, Professor of English and Film at SC, organized the event along with the Holocaust Committee, United Campus Ministry, Spiritual Life Center and William Simpson Fine Arts Committee.

People packed into the theater at Fuller Arts Center to watch this independent film. The event began with Poeuv giving an intriguing presentation on how we think and recall memories.

“The way that we actually know things is through stories,” Poeuv said to the audience. “These stories are always constructed by us, however they don’t always work in service of us.”

Poeuv was born to parents who suffered during the Cambodian Genocide brought on by the Khmer Rouge. Her family moved to the United States just after she was born in order to escape the terrible reign.

Growing up in America, Poeuv never experienced the troubled times her family went through, and rarely would her parents share any details about their past. When she began to learn about Cambodian culture and what they went through and are still suffering from, she found her mission. She resolved to investigate the past of her family and travel to her native land with them in search of answers.

The film was an eye opening experience shot like a family video in a country most of us are unfamiliar with. There is beautiful animation to tell some of the history and stories of Cambodia. You quickly become connected with Poeuv’s parents, who provide the movie with a consistent amount of humor as well as emotionally fueled moments.

Throughout the film you learn to understand Cambodians’ way of dealing with the past and how they persevere through hard times. It’s hard to imagine the bone-chilling experience of going back to the place where your family suffered so much, but Poeuv captures it wonderfully and mixes it with the natural charm of her family to create an inspiring film.

After the film, Poeuv was happy to answer audience questions and followed that by talking to individuals after the show.

“I think it went beyond expectation. I knew Socheata would be an excellent speaker and I have seen the film twice and I knew it would be quality,” Dr. Carol E. Mitchell said. “I am so happy the story got to be shared with the students, faculty and invited guests.”

Poeuv also spoke about her nonprofit organization, Khmer Legacies.

“The mission is to document stories of the Cambodian Genocide through videotape testimonies and then use those to educate students and the larger world about that time,” Poeuv said.

Poeuv’s film and lecture was an enlightening experience for the Springfield College community.

Tyler Stinson may be reached at

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