Documentary | English & Cambodian w/English subtitles | DVD | Study Guide Available
Producer/Director: Spencer Nakasako
Mike Siv has a plan: go to Cambodia with his buddies Paul and David, see the sights, have fun and reunite with his father and younger brother, whom he hasn’t seen in 22 years. Harsh reality sets in before the journey even begins, however, as Mike, Paul and David have never been out of the U.S., and are the first in their families to visit Cambodia since fleeing the bloody regime of Pol Pot in the late 1970s.
REFUGEE, director Spencer Nakasako (AKA DON BONUS, KELLY LOVES TONY) follows these young men from San Francisco’s Tenderloin to Battambang where they reunited with long-separated family members in Cambodia. Mike, the most articulate and emotionally invested of the three, supplies the film’s narration and main focus.
For Mike, the reunion is filled with happy, strange moments: calling someone “Dad” for the first time, or seeing a smile of recognition on his brother’s face. He relishes time with his family, yet can’t help doggedly pursuing an impossible question – “Why did I grow up without a father?” – as he struggles to understand his family’s past. A simple reunion becomes a journey of self-discovery, maturation and acceptance, against a backdrop of war, broken families and long separation.