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Tom Vater

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Banned in Cambodia – Who Killed Chea Vichea? – Rare Chiang Mai Screening

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Just watched Bradley Cox‘s excellent documentary Who killed Chea Vichea? – the  story about the murder of a trade union leader in Cambodia in 2004.

This gripping 55 minute feature is a roller-coaster investigative journey into a tragic political killing and by extension, a story about a country ruled by impunity. And just to prove that a film maker’s work can still have an impact on governments that don’t like to be held to account, Cox’s film has been banned in Cambodia.

Cox’s repeated attempts to have the film screened in the country it discusses have been met with strong arm resistance from the Cambodian authorities. Freedom Park in Phnom Penh, established by the Cambodian government, is a space where Cambodians, so long as they number less than 200, can demonstrate. But even Freedom Park is not free enough to show Who killed Chea Vichea? On November 17th 2010, a screening at Phnom Penh’s so-called oasis of free speech was met by officers in riot gear and broken up.

Interested viewers in Thailand will get another chance to see the film, as part of the Lifescapes SE Asian Film Festival.

Who killed Chea Vichea? will be shown in Chiang Mai, Thailand on February 5th at 4pm. Don’t miss it, the tag line ‘a documentary about an untrue story’ does not promise too much.

Director Bradley Cox will be present for the screening and will answer questions following the show!

Cox has managed to craft a gripping narrative on contemporary Cambodian politics and its ramifications for the country’s political and economic future.

Watch the trailer here.

The Press Release reads:

In 1999, Cambodian garment workers demanding decent wages and working conditions found their leader in Chea Vichea. As president of Cambodia’s free trade union, he stood with them despite beatings and death threats. Until a sunny morning in 2004. As Vichea read the paper at a sidewalk newsstand, three bullets silenced him forever. Under intense international pressure, the police arrested two men and extracted a confession. They were sentenced to 20 years each. But did they have anything to do with the crime? What seems at first to be justice done starts to look like a frame-up. And the implications reach far beyond the police station and the courtroom: to the headquarters of the ruling party and to the garment trade that is Cambodia’s economic lifeblood.

Director Bradley Cox shot Who Killed Chea Vichea? over five years, covering events as they happened and tracking down witnesses in a country where knowing too much can cost you your life. Since the completion of the film in 2010, the police in Cambodia have stopped two attempts to screen it and the Cambodian authorities announced that it is “forbidden” to screen it publicly there. Who Killed Chea Vichea? is a highly charged murder mystery, a political thriller, and a documentary like no other.

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