NERAKHOON (The Betrayal)


A Lao prophecy says, “A time will come when the universe will break…piece by piece…the world will change beyond what we know.” That time came for the small country of Laos with the clandestine involvement of the United States during the Vietnam War. By 1973, three million tons of bombs had been dropped on Laos in the fight to overcome the North Vietnamese, more than the total used during both world wars.

With the rise of a Communist government in Laos, killings and arrests became common among those affiliated with the former government and the Americans. Families were torn apart—some finally emigrating to the U.S. In a truly remarkable collaboration spanning more than 20 years, famed director of photography Ellen Kuras debuts her first directorial effort with Laotian codirector Thavisouk Phrasavath, the main subject of the film.

Phrasavath takes us through his youth, his escape from persecution and arrest in Laos, his family’s reunion and their journey as immigrants to America, and the second war they had to fight on the streets of New York City. Epic in scope and drawing upon the techniques of experimental film and the traditions of Laotian culture, NERAKHOON (The Betrayal) is an exquisitely crafted tale about a country, a family, and a young man who discovers the power and resilience of the human spirit.

(Archives note: see also Ellen Kuras & Thavisouk Pharasavath's Meet The Artist interview on our YouTube Channel.)

— Cara Mertes

Screening Details

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