The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor airs on the World Channel’s new series, Doc World, on September 18, 2016. Enter your zip code here to check your local listings.
When Dr. Haing S. Ngor was forced into slave labor camps by the Khmer Rouge, little did he know he would escape four years of torture and be called upon to recreate his harrowing experiences in a film that would earn him an Academy Award®. For the Cambodian-Chinese doctor, “Nothing has shaped my life as much as surviving the Pol Pot regime. I am a survivor of the Cambodian holocaust. That’s who I am.” And little did anyone know that some twenty years later, Dr. Ngor would be gunned down in a Los Angeles Chinatown alley. How could it be that he would survive near death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, only to be murdered by gangbangers in America?
“The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor” chronicles Dr. Ngor’s remarkable life journey – from a privileged life in Phnom Penh and up to the time of his murder…a case still tangled with questions of international conspiracy. At a time when “The Killing Fields” movie would be the world’s first wake-up call to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, Dr. Ngor used his Hollywood celebrity status and became the de facto “face of Cambodia” to command global attention to the devastation of his homeland, where – from 1975 to 1979 – the Khmer Rouge’s social experiment to transform the country into a communist agricultural utopia caused the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians who perished from mass starvation, forced labor, torture, slavery, ethnic cleansing, and political executions.
Dr. Haing S. Ngor was an early and staunch advocate for a Khmer Rouge tribunal, a still-in-progress development that finally began in 2009. He opened an orphanage in Phnom Penh, built a schoolhouse in his home village, and delivered medical and humanitarian supplies to refugee camps. He publicly admonished world governments for ignoring the plight of his countrymen. His is an inspiring survivor’s story of reconciliation with the horrors of the genocide, a nightmare that still haunts Cambodia today as the country is grabbling with corruption, poverty, and the impunity of aging Khmer Rouge leaders now on trial.
Produced, directed, and written by Oscar®-nominated and three-time Sundance award-winning filmmaker, Arthur Dong, “The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor” is a singular documentary on one of the most well-known Cambodians and survivors of the genocide, applying an iconic movie, “The Killing Fields,” as a storytelling device and entree to blend history and biography into a dramatic transnational narrative.
The feature-length film imaginatively blends original animation, rare archival material, and newly shot footage with Dr. Ngor’s inspiring autobiography, “Survival in the Killing Fields,” co-written with Roger Warner. The Chicago Tribune book review by T.D. Allman raves: “Ngor starred in the best film on Cambodia that has ever been produced. And now he has written the best book on Cambodia that has ever been published.”
ARTHUR DONG, Producer/Director/Writer/Editor
The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor builds on Arthur Dong’s 30-year track record of creating compelling documentaries that focus on personal stories to examine moments of history, social prejudice, and public policy concerns. His trilogy of films that investigate anti-gay prejudice were released in the DVD collection, “Stories from the War on Homosexuality,” and features the documentaries Family Fundamentals, Licensed to Kill and Coming Out Under Fire. His films about Chinese Americans were released in the follow-up collection, “Stories from Chinese America,” and includes Sewing Woman, Forbidden City, U.S.A. and Hollywood Chinese. His films have screened theatrically in the U.S., selected for top-tiered festivals worldwide like Sundance, Toronto, and Berlin, and broadcast globally. Arthur’s film excellence awards include an Oscar® nomination, three Sundance awards, the Peabody, five Emmy nominations, the Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy Award, Taiwan’s Golden Horse Award, and two GLAAD Media awards. He has been named a Guggenheim Fellow in Film and twice selected for the Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship. His many funding sources include the NEH, Ford Foundation, NEA, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Film Institute, Cal Humanities, and the Sundance Documentary Fund/John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Initiative. Arthur‘s recently published book Forbidden City, USA: Chinatown Nightclubs 1936-1970 won a 2015 American Book Award and the Independent Publisher’s IPPY Award.
WAYNE NGOR, Voice-Overs
Wayne Ngor, nephew of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, reads his uncle’s first-person narration that was written for The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor. In 1975, at the age of two, Wayne was forced into captivity by the Khmer Rouge regime, but eventually made it to America in 1996. Today, he proudly serves as one of NYPD’s finest. Read about Wayne’s recording session.
MARK ADLER, Composer – Score
The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor is Emmy Award-wining composer Mark Adler’s fourth collaboration with Arthur Dong. His previous film scores where he successfully infused Asian instrumentation and themes with contemporary western arrangements can be heard in Dong’s Hollywood Chinese, Wayne Wang’s Eat a Bowl of Tea, and the Sundance award-winning film, Picture Bride. Mark’s other credits include Food, Inc., The Rat Pack, Focus, and Two Days in October.
For the soundtrack of The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor, Bochan created special Khmer lyrics for her song, Like a Rose. She draws on her dual country upbringing to combine influences from urban Oakland with deep-rooted Cambodian inspirations. Bochan’s releases include her solo debut album, Full Monday Moon, and Hello HI, a fusion of Khmer psychedelic rock with urban soul.
WILSON WU, Animation Art Director & Compositor
Wilson Wu is an award-winning director and designer with over ten years experience with animation, visual effects, motion graphics, and computer-generated imagery. He worked as a director/art director at Imaginary Forces, and since 2008, has been a designer and art director at Guillermo del Toro’s Mirada Studios. Mr. Wu holds an M.F.A. in film from the Art Center of Design in Pasadena.
YORI MOCHIZUKI, Animation Illustrator & Storyboards
Yori Mochizuki is an artist specializing in storyboards, animatics, and concept designs. His feature film credits include Pacific Rim, The LEGO Movie, and Storks. His TV credits include Burn Notice and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
GRANT NELLESSEN, Title Design & Photo Animation
Grant Nellessen’s motion graphics and design work can be seen in the award-winning films, How to Survive a Plague (Oscar® nominee), Vito(Emmy), and I Am Divine. His most recent title and graphic designs are featured in Tab Hunter Confidential. Grant is a graduate of the American Film Institute, earning a MFA in Digital Media.
JOE MILNER, Sound Designer & Re-Recording Mixer
Joe Milner began his career in music, transitioning from performance into engineering and production, and finally into sound for motion pictures. Over a span of 21 years, he’s been involved with over 120 films, including Das Boot: The Director’s Cut, Vanilla Sky, Dogtown and Z-Boys,Ethel, Vito, I Am Divine, One Lucky Elephant, and the Oscar® nominatedLast Days In Vietnam.
JOE HOFFMAN, Post Production Supervisor
The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor is Joe Hoffman’s fourth collaboration with filmmaker Arthur Dong. He began his career as a documentary video editor in New York City, moved west as a special effects director/editor, followed by a promotion to VP for Engineering at One Pass/Editel in San Francisco. Joe owns and operates Jump House Design, an integrated media creation company.
VANARA TAING, First Assistant Editor
Vanara Taing was born at the Khao-I-Dang Refugee Camp to Khmer Rouge survivors. She earned an editing MFA from the American Film Institute Conservatory where she edited eight films as well as wrote the film, Samnang, which focuses on the Cambodian American immigrant community. She was previously an audio producer at StoryCorps, editing their Peabody Award-winning season on NPR’s Morning Edition.
DANIEL MYERS, Second Assistant Editor
Daniel Myers served as editor on the films Dustland, Ni-Ni, and Veladora. His latest credit is for screenwriter on the film, The Other Sister. Dan is a graduate of the American Film Institute, earning a MFA in Film Editing.
ASIROH CHAM, Research Assistant
Asiroh Cham was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and belongs to the Cham ethnic group, which was the largest minority to be executed by the Khmer Rouge. With a master’s degree in Asian American studies from UCLA, Asiroh is also a filmmaker and recently received the Linda Mabalot Legacy Scholarship from Visual Communications for her commitment to community justice and social issue documentary.
JONATHAN DOK, Voice-Overs
Jonathan Dok survived the Cambodian genocide and currently lives in Long Beach, California – home of the largest population of Cambodians outside Cambodia. He starred in the short film Samsang, which was written by Vanara Taing, assistant editor for The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor.
JONATHAN NHEAN, Voice-Overs
Jonathan Nhean was living in Battambang when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975. He appeared in the short films, Paulina and Two Shadows. Jonathan currently lives in Long Beach, California – home of the largest population of Cambodians outside Cambodia.
LUAN UM NHEAN, Voice-Overs
Luan Um Nhean survived the Cambodian genocide and currently lives in Long Beach, California – home of the largest population of Cambodians outside Cambodia. She appeared in the short film, Paulina.
AWARDS & HONORS
Best Documentary Audience Award
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Best Documentary Feature
Cambodia Town International Film Festival
New York Asian American International Film Festival
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Boston Asian American Festival
Austin Asian American Film Festival
International Southeast Asian Film Festival
Focal International Award
CINE Golden Eagle
Denver Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Salem Film Festival
Archive Documentary Spotlight:
UCLA Film & Television Archive
Mary Riempa Ross Media Arts Center
Hawaii International Film Festival
Morelia International Film Festival
Additional photos available upon request.
Arthur Dong documents life of genocide survivor Haing S. Ngor (San Francisco Chronicle)
Remembering Doctor Haing S. Ngor (KTLA 5)
Please contact momo[at]caamedia.org with any questions.