This past Friday evening the powerful documentary “Lost Child: Sayon’s Journey” was screened at the O’Leary Library on UMass Lowell’s South Campus. The 2013 film, winner of a Cine Golden Eagle Award, follows Lowell resident Sayon Soeun’s return to Cambodia where he finds family members who had lost but never forgotten him after the horror of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. Director and co-producer Janet Gardner says Sayon’s story shows “how children can be so easily exploited in war. I admire his ability to redeem himself from unimaginable evil and turn his life around after being a witness to so much genocide.” About 75 people attended the screening, after which there was a lengthy discussion about the making of the film and what it has meant to those involved and to those who have seen it. Janet Gardner, co-producer Sopheap Theam, and Sayon led the discussion. Sayon is executive director of Light of Cambodian Children, a nonprofit group in the city. I hope more people in Lowell and beyond are able to see the documentary, which is still making the rounds of film festivals around the nation and internationally.
The event was made possible thanks to the filmmakers, the Whistler House Museum of Art, sponsor Sage Bank, and several partners on campus including the Cultural Studies Department, Journalism and Media Studies Program, Peace and Conflict Studies Program, Cambodian Students Association, and Middle East Center for Peace, Development, and Culture. The program was presented as part of the Whistler House Museum’s ongoing series about genocide as seen through the eyes of artists. The program was funded in part by a grant from the Lowell Cultural Council with funds from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.