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Repairing a Shattered Image

Written By vibykhmer on Saturday, August 22, 2009 | 12:29 AM

By Jake Thomas /The Portland Observer

Chour Sreya, a survivor of an acid attack, prepares for her wedding in "Finding Face," a documentary about human rights that will make its Portland premier Sunday, Aug. 23 at the Portland Art Museum.

Film looks at gendered form of violence

In a country with limited opportunity for women, Tat Marina was a rising star.

Beautiful and talented, she was gaining an increasing amount of attention in Cambodia's karaoke scene. She eventually caught the eye of a powerful government official, Svay Sitha, who obsessed over her, and pampered her with luxuries that Tat Marina once thought she could only dream of.

However, she also drew the ire of the Svay's wife, who splashed acid on her face while feeding her niece fish porridge. The savage attack left Tat Marina disfigured and her life in shambles.

"Finding Face", a documentary produced by Skye Fitzgerald and Patti Duncan, is as much about the unaccountable power and the second-class citizen status of women in Cambodia as it is about Tat Marina's 10-year struggle to establish some semblance of normalcy after having her life violently unsettled.

Sadly, there is nothing uncommon about the sort of attack Tat suffered in Cambodia, where women are often hideously disfigured by jealous men who splash acid in their faces. The men who perpetuate these violent assaults are seldom held to account, and their victims rarely speak out.

The attack effectively ended Tat Marina's karaoke career, forcing her to hide the scars on her face with a piece of cloth whenever in public. She was pressured by Svay Sitha to remain quiet, but continued to speak out. She eventually fled to the United States to live with her brother. There, she got asylum and received reconstructive surgery, and gave birth to a child.

However, in Cambodia acid attacks continue against women with impunity. Svay Sitha even received a promotion, despite his involvement being well known.

"Finding Face", is an impactful and well-told story of one woman's courage to confront an injustice that is far-removed from many of its viewers, but is still very real for its victims.

The documentary recently premiered at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human rights in Geneva and will make it's Portland debut on Sunday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Portland Art Museum's Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave.

Tat Marina will be in attendance and answer questions after the screening.


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