Aki Ra’s Boys
SINGAPORE, CAMBODIA / 2007 / Khmer, English / Color / Video / 57 min
Directors: Lynn Lee, James Leong
Photography, Editing, Sound: James Leong
Technical Manager: Rajesh Nirwani
Producer: Lynn Lee
Production Company: Lianain Films
World Sales: Smiley Film Distribution & World Sales
Boreak and his friend Vannak both lost their right arms to landmines. They live and play in “Aki Ra’s Museum,” a place for young victims of landmines in the suburbs of Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat. The place is run by Aki Ra, a former soldier who is removing one by one landmines from the many thousands still buried, and placing them in his museum. While the two children are at times lonely living away from family, and have to endure physical pain, they maintain a fun-loving and competitive spirit as they wrestle, play soccer, help Aki Ra out, and attend to tourists. Their passion for life shines wholesomely in our eyes.
[Director’s Statement] What is a victim? When we met Boreak, his refreshing lack of self-pity took us by surprise. This young landmine survivor had suffered a horrible tragedy—an accident that would send any adult deep into despair—yet he rarely lets his disability hinder him.
His world is one of hope and possibility.
We were drawn to Boreak because of his infectious zest for life. But during our shoot, we were also exposed to some grim truths. An invitation from Aki Ra led us into the minefields, where we met farmers who had to cultivate land still studded with landmines, and saw children playing next to danger signs.
On a trip home, Boreak, with his missing arm, is reminded time and again that he is the luckiest child in his family. As one of Aki Ra’s boys, he gets to go to school, learns English, art, and music—opportunities his brothers and sisters can only dream of. Yet, because of his good fortune, Boreak is also expected to help support his family.
What is a victim? Our time with Boreak was enlightening. He showed us a side of Cambodia we’d never seen and taught us what it really means to overcome adversity.
(From the right)
James was born in Hong Kong and educated in the UK. He began working in production in Japan as a promo producer, but has been an independent director, cameraman, and editor since 2001.
Lynn started her career at an international news network where she worked her way up from news assistant to senior producer. In 2000, she was recruited by the United Nations to help set up East Timor’s first national television station. Since 2002, Lynn has been an independent producer, director, and writer.
Passabe, their first feature film, was supported by a grant from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund. Aki Ra’s Boys is their second film. They recently completed Homeless FC, a documentary about a football team made up of homeless people in Hong Kong.