Two Shadows Film About Cambodian-American Experience Returns To Long Beach

Posted By Urban News Hour | November 27, 2012

LONG BEACH — After a successful, award-winning May screening in Long Beach at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and subsequent national tour, director Greg Cahill is bringing his film “Two Shadows” back to the Art Theatre for a one-day screening.

Starring Long Beach resident Sophea Pel, the film won the audience award at the festival and has since been screened in a number of cities with large and active Cambodian-American populations, such as Lowell, Mass., Seattle, San Francisco and Stockton.

The film, which tells the story of an acculturated Cambodian-American woman searching for family and a sense of her own identity in her homeland, was well-received in its Long Beach debut, encouraging Cahill to bring it back for a second go-round.

The movie has also been selected for the third Asian Americans in Media Film Festival and is being considered for the Cambodian International Film Festival in Phnom Penh.

“The reception has been really good,” Cahill said of the movie, which was the first feature film not only for him but Pel and several other actors, including former Long Beach resident Jonathan Nhean, who plays the father of Pel’s character.

While the best-known depictions of Cambodia have been set in the Killing Fields era of the 1970s, when upwards of 2 million Cambodians died during the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge, “Two Shadows” is an attempt to tell the narrative of the subsequent generation.

“People are excited to see (a modern) perspective,” Cahill said of his movie. “It’s similar to the experience a lot of families have had since leaving Cambodia.”

The plot revolves around Americanized hipster Sovanna, who learns she may have a long-lost brother and sister still alive in Cambodia.

Sovanna travels back to her birthplace and becomes “ensnared into an increasingly dangerous situation, pitting her in a tug-of-war between her own personal safety, and her compassion for a stranger,” according to film literature.

For Pel, a recent Cal State Long Beach graduate, and Nhean, the story of their characters struck close to home. Both Pel and Nhean are refugees born in Cambodia who had to dodge minefields to flee to Thai refugee camps before emigrating to the United States. And, as in the movie, both were separated from siblings.

Pel was separated from a brother in Cambodia for more than 20 years and Nhean lost a brother who was later discovered alive in a refugee camp.

The film screening will be followed by a question-and- answer session with Cahill, Pel, Nhean and producer Christen Marquez.




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