location: Thailand and Canada
Haing S. Ngor plays Dith Pran
Based upon the true story of Dith Pran - Sydney Schanberg's ‘The Death and Life of Dith Pran’
Between 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge coerced most of Cambodia's people into forced labour, Between 2 and 3 million people (around 30% of the entire population were murdered, died from starvation or died under other terrible conditions
New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg is one of the few American journalists who is still in Phnom Penh when the city falls to the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in 1975. He persuades his Cambodian assistant, friend and interpreter, Dith Pran (played by Haing S. Ngor) to remain behind in Phnom Penh with him to help cover the story after the communist Khmer Rouge take-over.
However, soon Schanberg and the last remaining westerners are evacuated out of the capital. Dith Pran can’t get away and is forced to stay in his home country. In the years that follow Dith Pran endures the atrocities of the Pol Pot regime and is captured by Khmer Rouge because of his friendship with the Americans.
As many other fellow countrymen Dith Pran struggles to stay alive in a re-education labor camp and he undertakes two futile and highly risky escape attempts. Finally he starts on his terrible journey to Thailand, on foot, seeing the remains of massacres, the Killing Fields.
Dith Pran escaped over the Thai border in 1979. Sydney Schanberg flew to Thailand to meet him. Together they flew to America where Dith Pran became a photojournalist for The New York Times. Dith Pran died in 2013, he was 65 years old.