Participatory Video in Cambodia: The case of WE WANT (U) TO KNOW? Justice, remembrance and healing through film in the times of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

By Ella Pugliese and Nou Va - Speaker

Envisioned, filmed, acted and co-directed by Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide and their grandchildren, We Want (U) To Know is a striking illustration of a Cambodian community struggling to confront, acknowledge, and heal from the brutalities and trauma they experienced. Using art as a tool for communication and healing across generations, participants explored issues of legacy, forgiveness, culturally sensitive, reconciliation, responsibility, peace building, and the consequences of silence.
In ist original 90min version, and since last year in the more sharpen and focused 54min version, We Want (U) To Know has been shown many times all over Cambodia in cities, at universities and in villages. Originally conceived as an instrument of work for the local civil society, this little film seemed to act as a catalyst for inspiration to action and change in the life of the Cambodians looking for new ways to cope with the past.
But what happened after the project concluded in the village community? What echo did the film really have between the protagonists, their families, the other community members and eventually former Khmer Rouge cadre???
And in general: What impact did We Want (U) To Know have and continue to have after three years from the realization of the film and is first release regarding the Cambodian discussion about the past and future? Is participation a valid instrument to help civil society individuate and solve Cambodian problems? If the film and the project were so successful, why has no further participatory video work followed?
In April 2012 directors Ella Pugliese and NouVa will work together with the NGOs, psychologists and consultants who took part at the film project to finally go back together to ThnolLok, the village in the south of Cambodia where the stunning participatory process took place in 2008-2009.This will be the follow up three years later.
Our appearance at the Göttingen Symposium will focus on the answers to these questions, and the new questions that our trip back to ThnolLok will give us.


Born in Rome in 1974, Ella Pugliese holds a degree in Languages and a MA in Anthropology of Migration, lives and works in Berlin as a freelance Author and Filmmaker. In the past years she has collected field experiences in refugee and roma camps from Naples to Algeria, she has worked for international research institutes dealing with migration issues and she has collaborated with the Department of Performing Arts of the University Roma Tre, as well as with RAI-Sat tv. She has co-directed photographed and edited several documentary projects with an anthropological focus, like The Puppetmasters, her first feature length documentary, about local tradition, art and memory in Southern Italy s countryside.

Born in Pursat, 1979, Nou Va holds a Bachelor of Arts of Law and one of Education, has been working since years for NGOs dealing with Human Rights in Phnom Penh. Nou Va is the co-director of We Want (u) to Know As and the lead facilitator of the community dialogues featured in the film. Additionally, he was responsible for organizing the trips to the target communities and managing relations with stakeholders such as NGO partners, community members and local authorities throughout the film making process. He also assisted with translation efforts.
Va currently works at Youth for Peace (YFP) and The Peace Institute of Cambodia (PIC). His work focuses on reconciliation, peacebuilding and cultures of memory culture in the context of post-war Cambodia. The nature of his work is based on using community participatory approach and "bottom up" methodology.

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