Phnom Penh: The Fields

About 15 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh are the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. During the Khmer Rouge Regime of 1970s that killed an estimated 1.7 million, many prisoners were brutally murdered in these fields. This peaceful and quiet location has been the sight of the cruel genocide of Pol Pot’s regime and to remember those who lost their lives, the Cambodian government has built a 17-story memorial stupa, which displays skulls and bones that are still being dug out daily from these fields.

Skulls of the victims in the memorial stupa at the Killing Fields. There are more than 800 skulls in this stupa.

No photo can do justice to the heart-wrenching emotion evoked by the sadness of the fields. We tried to capture the experience of walking through these grounds on video and but nothing compares to being present there and hearing about the tragedies from people, directly affected by it.

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Documenting the Documentary

For my last semester of Journalism school at Ryerson University, I only had two courses: the very theoretical Journalism Law and Ethics; and the very practical, challenging, exciting and awesome course called TV Documentary.

TV Documentary is a fourth year destination course for broadcast journalism students. Students not taking this course can choose between Radio Doc, Senior Reporting, Advanced Photojournalism and other courses that require individual effort. TV Doc, on the other hand, is all about team work. Students are divided into a team of five and choose their roles within the team.

My group consisted of the amazing Joseph Casciaro, our Producer who was responsible for overseeing the entire process; my very talented best friend, Sachin Seth, was the reporter for this project; Phoenix Tarampi, who I interned with earlier at Daily Planet, was the cinematographer; and Christine Fitzgerald was the senior researcher. Just as I had wanted, I was the editor of the documentary.

As painful as it sounds, locking yourself and editing a piece is actually one of the funnest things I got to do at Ryerson. And this is the part: When you work on something, for say a few hours, and bring in your team members to the edit suite to show them what you put together, and they like it – that’s such a rewarding feeling! On the last day of class, our professor also mentioned that editing really helps shape the final product, making it a very important part of the process.

And I am happy that I got to see this piece from start to finish. I had pitched the idea of doing a story about the men who get mail order brides: what are they like? why do they choose an international marriage service to get a wife? what kind of backgrounds do they come from? Continue reading