Synopsis by Mark Deming
In the 1980's, a large number of Cambodian families fleeing the violence of the Khymer Rouge came to the United States to start new lives, but not all the young people who found themselves in a new and unfamiliar culture had an easy time of it. Some Cambodian youths settling in America joined street gangs, and Kim Ho Ma, Loeun Lun and Many Uch were three such young men. As teenagers, they were found guilty of serious crimes, and since Cambodia was unwilling to accept deportees, they served sentences in American prisons. Though Kim Ho Ma accumulated a long record of petty offences after he was released from prison, both Loeun Lun and Many Uch successfully rehabilitated themselves, with Lun married with children and holding down a steady job while Uch works with minority youth to help provide alternatives to gang life. However, under a new agreement between Cambodia and the United States, all three men face deportation to Cambodia, in effect punishing them for crimes for which they've already served time. Filmmakers David Grabias and Nicole Newnham examine the legal situation facing Cambodian ex-cons and the stories of these three men in the documentary Sentenced Home, as they examine Lun's struggle to stay in America and keep his family together, Uch desire to prevent others from falling into the same traps that claimed him, and Ma sympathy for his comrades, even as he explains that given his record he has little place to complain. Sentenced Home was screened as part of the "Documentary Fortnight" series at New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Cambodia, Cambodian [nationality], deportation, immigrant, refugee, September 11th, street-gang