DAZE OF JUSTICE
Directed by Michael Siv
Centerpiece Film, 2016 CAAMFest
Emerging Director Award (Documentary), 2016 Asian American International Film Festival
By the fall of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, Cambodia had lost two million people (an entire quarter of its population) to institutional famine and state-sponsored genocide. Asylum seekers fled the country en masse, fearing for their lives, forced to leave family members behind. One of these refugees was Michael Siv, who many years later returned to Cambodia to reunite with his father and brother, a touching coming-of-age journey which would later be the subject of Spencer Nakasako’s documentary Refugee (SDAFF ’03).
Now all grown up, Siv returns to Cambodia once again, but this time with altered stakes. Armed with hidden cameras, an unlikely cadre of senior citizens, and one fierce-as-hell law professor, he and his team seek out not self-discovery and cultivation, but justice and restitution. For the survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities, monetary compensation hardly addresses the surface of their grievances; in fact, these elders will settle for nothing less than an admission of guilt from the worst offenders of Pol Pot’s regime, even if it requires wringing it out from their cold, calloused hands.
DAZE OF JUSTICE presents an authentic look into the extended plight of those refugees who wear a demand for justice on their sleeves, but in truth crave healing above all else. Though they soon come to realize that their desires are doomed to drown under all the red tape of the legal system, it turns out restoration sometimes works in the most unexpected of ways. –Thomas Jin
Writer: Michael Siv