40 Years to Find My Family
Unreported World review – a family reunion with Krishnan Guru-Murthy
There isn’t a dry eye in the house – or at least my house – as Bo and Hong embrace in a studio 40 years after being separated by the Khmer Rouge
April 25th, 2014 – by Sam Wallaston
Krishnan Guru-Murthy has taken a bit of a bashing this week for an interview he did with Robert Downey Jr on Channel 4 News. His crime was to try to make the interview interesting and actually find out something about the actor, rather than sticking to the PR script and asking lame questions about the film Downey Jr was there to promote. A lot of people didn’t like it. RDJ certainly didn’t like it and walked out of the interview.
There are no Hollywood egos for Guru-Murthy to take on in Unreported World: 40 Years to Find My Family (Channel 4), just two middle-aged sisters who haven’t seen each other since they were separated as children. This is not your average Unreported World territory, you might think – more like something from Take a Break magazine. Actually the sisters were reunited by a reality TV show; this is television about television. We are in Cambodia, though, and Hong and Bo were separated by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, while the rest of their family was either killed or starved. I think it’s OK for UW and KG-M to be here too. Plus, KG-M does interview a former Khmer Rouge torturer for some context, so it’s not just Siblings Reunited.
The sisters’ lives took very different paths after their separation. Bo has been living in the Kampong Chhnang area of Cambodia, where she is a rice farmer. She hasn’t been back to Phnom Penh since childhood. Hong left the country altogether, and has been living in the Texas area of the US, where she runs a donut shop. But both their lives have been defined by the losses they suffered as children. The reunion, in a TV studio, is incredibly emotional. They embrace, a huge emptiness is suddenly filled, there’s not a dry eye in the house, I’m practically in tears here and I’ve only known them for 20 minutes.
But that’s not the end of it – there’s a further twist, and that’s it, me gone, blubbing like a baby. I won’t go into the details, in case you didn’t see it. You should, though, if you fancy a bloody good weep. Much much better than awkwardness and A-list stroppiness.
Daily Mirror – Pick of the Day
The modern world collides with a terrible legacy as families who were torn apart by genocide in Cambodia are now being reunited by reality TV.
In this emotionally-charged film Krishnan Guru-Murthy witnesses two sisters brought back together after 40 years on the show It’s Not A Dream, a Cambodian version of Long Lost Family.
The sisters were separated in 1975, during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror when 1.7 million people were murdered. Now this small TV team is on a mission to help the thousands of people like them who call their hotline.
“Their dreams and hopes depend on us,” says Sokha Youk, who created the programme in 2010. “My mother survived the regime. Of the 20 relatives in her house, 19 died. All except her.”
This week’s edition will see Hong, who lives in the US, reunited with her sister Bo. Most of their family were killed or starved.
Hong thinks she’s back in Cambodia to record an appeal to find her loved ones. But of course there’s a surprise in store.
The Independent – Critic’s Choice
Krishnan Guru-Murthy heads to Cambodia to meet families who were torn apart by Pol Pot’s regime 40 years ago, and are now being reunited on a local television show called It’s Not A Dream. “Separated by genocide… reunited by reality TV,” is how he arrestingly puts it, as he watches a programme being put together in which two sisters meet for the first time since the Seventies. The Khmer Rouge’s farming-based Marxist “utopia”, which murdered 1.7 million Cambodians and forcibly split countless families, means there are endless such stories waiting to be told, and the producers of the programme have made it their mission to try to heal the wounds.
The Guardian – Pick of the Day
“I miss you. Do you miss me? I’ve come to find you.” When Siv Hong appears on Cambodian reality show It’s Not A Dream looking for her sister Bo, she has no idea what to expect. With millions of families deliberately ripped-up, scattered and, of course, murdered by the Khmer Rouge 40 years ago, this isn’t so much a developing countries-version of Cilla’s Surprise Surprise as a deadly serious affair, with an incredibly moving ending in store, as reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy discovers.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy heads to Cambodia to meet families who were torn apart by Pol Pot’s regime 40 years ago, and are now being reunited on a local TV show. About 1.7 million people were killed during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, and hundreds of thousands more were forcibly separated from each other. The producers of Cambodia’s version of Long Lost Family have made it their mission to heal the wounds from one of the country’s most painful legacies, and this programme follows their most emotionally charged edition yet.
SHORTLISTED FOR 2016 ONE WORLD MEDIA AWARD – BEST SHORT FILM