[The Betrayal opens today at the IFC Center in Manhattan. Click here for Lauren Wissot’s review of the film, originally published on The House Next Door on June 14th, 2008 as part of our coverage of the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.]
The day I interviewed famed cinematographer Ellen Kuras (who I’d always envisioned as a wishbone with Scorsese and Spike Lee pulling on either leg) and Thavisouk Phrasavath, co-directors of the 23-years-in-the-making labor of love The Betrayal, congratulations were in order. The film, about the fallout from U.S. foreign policy in Laos as told through the personal lens of Thavi and his immigrant family, had just made the doc shortlist for the Academy Awards (along with Man On Wire. Attention Werner Herzog, HND interviews are good luck!) But as we spoke about everything from the American government’s refusal to fully own up to historical atrocities committed in its name (thereby repeating them) to the influence Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (on which Kuras was cinematographer) had on The Betrayal, I got a strong sense that the filmmakers were aiming higher than even Oscar. Sure, a statue would be nice, but influencing an Iraq pullout would be much more on point and gratifying.
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