Reviews > Television

Family secrets

Television | Story of a search for truth is wonderfully moving

Issue: "Return of the Lion," May 17, 2008

Tune in to the PBS series Independent Lens on the evening of Tuesday, May 27 (check local listings), to watch a wonderfully moving film, New Year Baby. It's the story of a Cambodian-American young woman's search for the truth about family secrets, and it should be shown two weeks later in the run-up to Father's Day.

That's all I'll hint about the plot, but here's the backstory: Filmmaker Socheata Poeuv was born in a refugee camp on a Cambodian New Year's Day to parents who had survived the Khmer Rouge and eventually moved to Texas. Poeuv's parents never spoke about what had happened in the Communist killing fields, where more than 1.7 million Cambodians-one-fourth of the population-died.

Her parents instead worked to give Poeuv and what she believed to be her older sisters and brother a "normal American life." Poeuv worked hard and did well, graduating cum laude from Smith College in 2002. But on Christmas Day that year, Poeuv learned a secret about her family, and then traveled with her parents to their homeland, picking up pieces of her history, and learning about Cambodia's as well.

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Along the way, Poeuv was always looking for answers to questions her parents would never answer: Why did her mom and dad seem to be such a mismatched couple? How did they survive the Khmer Rouge labor camps when so many others died? Children often want their parents to have heroic pasts and sometimes larger-than-life presents, but Poeuv's father seemed so ineffectual.

New Year Baby is not a Christian film as such, but it tells much about man's depravity, God's mercy, and the way we're made in His image. Worth watching and recommending to friends.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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