The Betrayal – Nerakhoon (2008)
July 18, 2013 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Filmed over 23 years, The Betrayal is the Academy Award-nominated directorial debut of renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras in a unique collaboration with the film’s subject and co-director, Thavisouk (“Thavi”) Phrasavath. It is an epic story of a family forced to emigrate from Laos after the chaos of the secret air war waged by the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Kuras has spent the last 23 years chronicling the family’s extraordinary journey in this deeply personal, poetic, and emotional film.
The Betrayal begins chillingly with a 5,000-year-old Lao prophecy, as related by Thavi’s grandmother, “A time will come when the universe will break. It will break piece-by-piece, country-by-country and religion-by-religion. Husband and wife will break into two. The children will escape into the wind…” 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. After the U.S. government waged a secret war in Laos during the Vietnam War, Thavi’s father and thousands of other Laotians who had fought alongside American forces were abandoned and left to face imprisonment or execution.
Hoping to find safety, Thavi’s family made a harrowing escape to America. 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. Drawing on the techniques of experimental film and the traditions of Laotian culture, Nerakhoon (The Betrayal) is a tale about a country, a family, and a young man who discovers the power and resilience of the human spirit.
Free to the Public