Cambodian Voices in the Bay
Documentary Project

Directed by immigrant filmmakers Ido Bartana and Nadim Badiee, Cambodian Voices in the Bay is a new documentary produced by ARTogether that shows the resiliency of Cambodian-American community despite all the hardships they have faced in the past 40 years. Centering on the family of matriarch Kanley Souet-Pich, the story follows the detention of her husband by ICE and Kanley’s community organizing efforts to fight back. Following the story of this family, audiences learn about the Cambodian refugee experiences in the US, and the difficulties still endemic to this community as a result of systemic issues within the US refugee resettlement process.

The film documents Kanley’s growing community efforts to deliver food and PPE to the elders during the COVID-19 pandemic and teach them how to use Zoom for their weekly support groups. Described as the “unspoken hero” and the powerhouse of the household, the film traces the lives of Kanley’s daughters, centering on Moragaut and her involvement in the recent BLM and anti-ICE movements.

Cambodian Voices in the Bay is a journey of two outsider filmmakers to first learn and then highlight the nuances and cultural richness of Cambodian culture and experience, promoting a human face for refugees that will counterbalance the deepening trend of xenophobia in our public discourse. This will be the third work by filmmakers Bartana and Badiee with Oakland’s Cambodian community, following a short 8-minute film A Painful Silence, as well as A Path to Healing, which highlights the work of the Center for Empowering Refugees & Immigrants, an organization that provides mental health services to the Cambodian community of Oakland.

The film is part of a larger exhibition about the Cambodian refugee experience, which will feature a multimedia gallery exhibition and website exploring different stories of the Cambodian-American refugee community.

Nowhere But Here (Documentary)
A film by ARTogether, directed by Brandon Soun

Nowhere But Here is a short documentary which follows the lives of Rouen Pich & Kanley Sout from Oakaland, CA. Between the years of 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge Communist Regime wiped out a total of 1.4 million Cambodians in one of the bloodiest genocides of the century. As a result, tens of thousands would flee to refugee camps across the border into Thailand, where eventually, thousands would then flock to the United States of America. Oakland became one of the destinations in which many families took refuge during the early 1980’s, right in the middle of America’s war on drugs, gangs & violence. 20 years ago (2002), the U.S. signed a deal with Cambodia for refugees to be sent back permanently if they committed a crime (even non-violent ones). Unfortunately, Rouen would become one of these Khmer refugees who was targeted by ICE to be sent back to Cambodia. Although the non-violent crime he committed was decades ago as a teen, ICE still detained him as a potential candidate to be deported to Cambodia. 

This is the story of Roeun’s wife Kanley’s resilience to fight for her husband’s freedom, alongside her children & with the support of the Cambodian community in Oakland, Rouen & Kanley found themselves hit hard with the reality that home is where the heart is, where the family can be together… home is nowhere but here.

This project is made possible with support from California Humanities.