Athena Cinema to Screen “Cambodian Son” during OU International Week

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Athens area residents will have the opportunity to watch the documentary Cambodian Son and speak with its director on Tuesday, April 12 at the Athena Cinema.

The film, being presented for free at 5 p.m., is part of Ohio University’s International Week celebration.

“Cambodian Son is an important American story. It’s about our immigration policy. It’s about the legacy of our involvement in southeast Asia. It’s about who we have become as a nation. And it’s about the power of art to transform life,” said Robert Stewart, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and advisor to the Global Leadership Center.

The award-winning film documents the life of Kosal Khiev, deported to Cambodia by the U.S. because of a felony conviction when he was a teenager. He later received the most important performance invitation of his career—to represent the Kingdom of Cambodia at the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Kosal traveled to London, having only taken two flights prior: First, as a 1-year-old refugee whose family fled Cambodia in the late 1970s; and as a 32-year-old criminal “alien” forcibly returned to Cambodia in 2011. The film follows a volatile yet charming and talented young man who struggles to find his footing while enjoying a new freedom that came with his deportation.

Armed only with memorized verses, Kosal faces the challenges of being a deportee while navigating his new fame as one of Phnom Penh’s premiere poets. After the performances end and the London stage becomes a faint memory, Kosal is once again left alone to answer the central question in his life: “How do you survive when you belong nowhere?”

Documentary director Masahiro Sugano will be at the Athena Cinema for the screening and will answer questions after the film. Born in Osaka, Japan, the director is a Sundance Film Festival alumni and an award-winning filmmaker.

For more information on the film and screening, visit For information about International Week at Ohio University, visit

Cambodian Son poster