Cambodia vs. ‘Chea’

Director claims gov is preventing screenings of pic

The director of “Who Killed Chea Vichea?,” a documentary about the 2004 slaying of the Cambodian union leader, is asserting that the Cambodian government has banned screenings of the film.

U.S. helmer Bradley Cox says the government has been preventing showings of his film for the past month in the first banning of a politically charged film since the 1980s.

The movie screened at the recently wrapped Cannes market and has been playing the festival circuit for the past two years. It’s been named to Amnesty Intl.’s Top Ten Movies That Matter list.

Cox says trade unionists attempted to hold the film’s Cambodian premiere at the location where Vichea was killed but police raided the scene, leading to a declaration by the Cambodian government that the pic is an illegal import.

The movie makes the case that the government was allegedly complicit in the slaying and that police framed two innocent men for the killing.

“It’s not surprising that the government would quickly move to suppress the film,” Cox tells Variety. “Chea Vichea was a hero to many because he dared to speak up for the little guy. In a country run on fear, this is a rare thing and in the end, Vichea payed the price for it.”

Doc was produced by Rich Garella and Jeffrey Sanders.

Garella lived in Cambodia for most of 1995-2003, was managing editor of the Cambodia Daily and later worked as press secretary for Cambodia’s main opposition party.

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