They fled in darkness in a leaky row boat on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia.
Gunshots cracked the silence as the terrified mother clutched her children, ages seven, five, three, and one.
Searchlights scanned the water as government forces searched for Laotians fleeing their homeland to the relative safety of Thailand.
It was the late 1970s when Khounta Phommarath and her children made their desperate run to freedom. It began in Laos and ultimately ended in southern Manitoba.
That’s part of a powerful story of survival in a new short film by Winnipegger Sidney Phommarath.
Rising from Refuge documents her family’s journey as refugees who ultimately settled in southern Manitoba. It was Sidney’s grandmother who fled Laos in that leaky row boat with her children, including Sidney’s father, then three years old.
It’s a story about “courage, struggle and happy endings,” said Sidney, who produced the film through CBC’s Creator Network.
The Creator Network works with emerging storytellers — including filmmakers, writers, artists, photographers, illustrators and animators — to tell stories through their own lens.
About the filmmaker
Sidney Phommarath is an Asian Canadian artist and filmmaker from Winnipeg.
She is a university student studying film, and human rights, and is focused on documentary filmmaking.
Her passion for social justice stems from her family’s refugee experience.
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