Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Forced repatriation in Sentenced Home

David Grabias and Nicole Newnham (pictured) combined the production, direction and writing of the story of the forced repatriation back to Cambodia of three young Cambodian Americans in their 80-minute documentary film, Sentenced Home, which has been showing in film festivals in recent months. Loeun Lun, Manny Uch and Kim Ho Ma arrived in the US as refugees in the ‘80s, and settled in Seattle, though each was drawn into gang life, and ultimately jail. According to US immigration law they should have been deported, but Cambodia did not accept deportees at the time of their sentences. However, after September 2001, the US pressured Cambodia into changing its policy; as a result over 1,400 individuals are on the list to be separated from their families and returned to a land that many barely know. Despite having served their time in jail, two of the three youngsters have already been deported and following them from the States to Cambodia, Grabias and Newnham bring to light their heart-breaking stories, and reveal the human cost of this decision to repatriate. Once they reach Cambodia, Bill Herod coordinates the Returnee Assistance Project, a network that helps provide employment, training and accommodation for the returnees.

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