Release date:November 21, 2008
Directors:Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath
Screenwriters:Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath
Ellen Kuras' and Thavisouk Phrasavath's extraordinary documentary about a family's epic journey from war-torn Laos to the mean streets of New York. Filmed over the course of 23 years, Phrasavath tells his own story of struggling as a young man to survive both the war and the hardships of immigrant life, as well as his mother's astonishing story of perseverance. Featuring a stirring score by Academy award-winning composer Howard Shore, "The Betrayal" is a poetic, deeply moving film about the hidden, human face of war's "collateral damage." During the Vietnam War, the U.S. clandestinely operated within the neighboring country of Laos. By 1973 a secret air campaign had dropped more bombs on Laos than were used during WWI and WWII combined. Recruited by the CIA to work intelligence along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Thavisouk's father is exposed after America's retreat and is imprisoned by the ruling Communist government. The entire family comes under suspicion and their mother is forced to raise Thavi and his nine younger siblings alone. At the age thirteen, Thavi escapes across the Mekong River to Thailand, and is joined two years later by his mother and seven of his siblings. After living in a refugee camp the family seeks asylum in America, and is soon deposited in a crowded tenement in Brooklyn. Left to their own means by the government, the family struggles to survive and stay together, pulled by two different cultures, terrorized by local gangs, and haunted by memories.