New Year Baby: The Lucky One
By Anuj Malhorta
Born in a Thai refugee camp on the Cambodian New Year, documentary filmmaker Socheata Poeuv was deemed by her family “the lucky one,” fated to good fortune. She never witnessed the brutal oppression and genocide under the Khmer Rouge but she knew that her parents had survived through the cruel and inhumane Khmer Rouge rule. Although living in Texas suburbs 25 years later (today), Socheata was impelled to confront and give a human face to her childhood shadows. She travels to Cambodia with her parents to unravel the mystery shrouding her family’s survival and eventual escape. When I compare the Cambodian-American experience to the Chinese-American I see some striking differences. The first and the most obvious is how they ended up here in America. While the Chinese came here in search for job and as sojourners, the Cambodian nationals came here to seek for asylum from the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. I can also imagine that because of this reason, the attitude of the Americans will also be more sympathetic towards the Cambodians.
I think it is really important to know your past and your roots in order to truly explore your identity. In this case, Socheata was curious about the history of her parents who sacrificed so much for “the lucky one”. Towards the end of the movie and from the interview, it was very noticeable that Socheata had new values for her parents and a much better understanding of her past. Even in the most touching scene in the film when Socheata asked a very innocent question from her father that if ceremonies were conducted for Socheata, the New Year Baby, the father completely broke down in tears. The horrendous carnage was being forgotten by the world and an added goal of the film was to document the bloody past of Cambodia.