Lost Loves


This gripping drama of a family on the run from the Khmer Rouge was last year’s official Academy Award submission for Best Foreign Language Film from Cambodia.

Critical acclaim for Lost Loves:
“…generating a level of discussion about the Khmer Rouge that is rare in Cambodia” — Los Angeles Times
“The most talked about film” — Hollywood Reporter
“a notable contribution to Cambodian film” — Phnom Penh Post / 7 Days Feature
“Lost Loves is the best-looking Cambodian film in years” — Meta House
“an impressive accomplishment, a well-made Cambodian film on a subject matter that seems to slip from public consciousness all to easily in Cambodia” — Dr. Tilman Baumgärtel, Southeast Asian Film Studies Institute


Cambodia, 2012
Genre: Drama
Language: Cambodian, English subtitles
Running time: 110 minutes

Directed by Chhay Bora
Starring Kauv Sotheary, Pok Marineth, Nhem Sopheak, Chin Neak

LOST LOVES is the heart wrenching true story of Leav Sila, just one of many countless mothers that did all they could to keep their family alive, only to see the vast majority be killed or starve to death in the fateful years of the Khmer Rouge regime. Written and starring Kauv Sotheary, one of only two surviving children of Leav Sila, it gives a brutal yet captivating insight into the extremity of this painful chapter in history. LOST LOVES is directed by Chhay Bora, Kauv Sottheary’s husband. Both being university lecturers, they have spent their life savings on this project, not for personal gain, but because Leav Sila’s story, like many thousands of that period, needed to be told. The new generation of Cambodians must learn their history so as to never repeat it.



Phnom Penh – Cambodia, 1975, was the year when Khmer Rouge came into power, beginning nearly 4 years of bloody rule over the Cambodians. During these dark years, the country was subject to the many new “revolutionary” policies of the “Angkar” (the common reference name of Khmer Rouge at that time). Women and children were sent to collective camps to work in farms and plantations for food they cannot eat; men were exhausted at labour camps and intellectuals or suspected persons with any “connections” that went against the revolutionary ideology were tortured and executed. Countless people of that generation were never seen again and families separated.

This is the true story of Madam Leav Sila – the story her life during the genocide of Pol Pot’s regime. Now 68 years old, Madam Sila does not enjoy the health as one would expect of her age, a legacy from the hardships she faced from 1975 – 1979. This film documents the sadness of her life, especially the loss of her family in the genocide.

Fifteen days after evacuating from Phnom Penh, her father, General Leav Kar, a former high-ranking well-respected cadre in the Lon Nol regime, was executed. The Khmer Rouge cadres hung a big rock on his neck and shot him till he fell from the bridge at Kampong Speu province. Her husband, Kauv Yan, an officer at a fortress near Kampong Chhnang province, disappeared ever since. Madam Sila was told that a villager in Kampong Chhnang province had seen her husband and 30 other Lon Nol loyalists were escorted away by Khmer Rouge cadres on 20 April, 1975, for execution. It was the very day that Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh.

In the terrible years that ensued, Madam Sila encountered many tribulations in her attempts to keep her family members alive. Without proper food, her youngest daughter suffered from edema and malnutrition. She tried to save her daughter’s life by exchanging her diamond ring for medicine.

In 1976, her eldest daughter had permission to visit Madam Sila, whom were separated in 1975. Unfortunately, when her daughter arrived at the village, Madam Sila had already left to work at another village. Sadly, the next morning, her daughter left for the children’s camp by boat. The boat was over-loaded and capsized, drowning her daughter.
Her two brothers who were students, also died in the genocide. By 1979 and the end of Khmer Rouge’s rule, Madam Sila along with a daughter and son were all that is left of her family.

Through this film, we see the many acts against humanity during Khmer Rouge’s rule over Cambodia and through Madam Sila’s story we will be able to feel the anguish and sorrow that many other Cambodian families suffered during those years of starvation, exhaustion and indiscriminate executions. It is a part of our nation’s history that we do not wish to see repeated ever again.