PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon State University faculty member and Portland resident Patti Duncan, along with co-producer Skye Fitzgerald, will premiere their documentary film, “Finding Face,” at The International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, which takes place March 6-15 in Geneva. “Finding Face” screens on March 11 and 14.
The film, directed and produced by Fitzgerald and Duncan, investigates the phenomenon of acid attacks in Cambodia, the deliberate throwing of acid usually into the faces of young women.
Framing acid attacks as a gendered form of violence and a human rights violation, “Finding Face” follows the story of a young woman named Tat Marina who was granted asylum to enter the United States following her well-publicized 1999 attack by the wife of a highly-ranked government official in Phnom Penh.
When she was 16, Marina was a rising star in Cambodia’s emerging karaoke scene. After being coerced into an abusive relationship with a government official, Marina was attacked with acid by the official’s wife in front of hundreds of witnesses. “Finding Face” documents the fracturing of Marina’s family across national borders, as well as her family members’ disparate responses.
Due to the central crime detailed in the film and the threat of retaliation against victims if they choose to go public with their story, the filmmakers have notified an array of organizations regarding the vulnerability of subjects and collaborators involved in the film. These organizations include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights-Cambodia, and others.
“Skye Fitzgerald and I decided to make this film three years ago, after encountering survivors of acid violence in Cambodia while working on his previous film, ‘Bombhunters,’” Duncan said. “We were both struck by how normalized it seemed, as well as how stigmatized the victims seem to be within society.”
The film took more than two years to make and involved multiple trips to Cambodia and to the Boston area, where Marina now lives.
Duncan, an associate professor in the Department of Women Studies at OSU, wrote the script for the film. Fitzgerald, founder of Spin Film and producer and director of “Bombhunters,” (2006) co-produced the film and is the principal cinematographer.
Others involved include:
-- Patrick Weishampel, editor at Oregon Public Broadcasting and multimedia designer at Portland Center Stage, edited the film.
-- William Campbell, assistant professor of music at St. Ambrose University in Iowa, composed the original score. Additional music was provided by the Los Angeles-based band Dengue Fever, and Academy Award-winner Marketa Irglova.
-- Narration was provided by Dmae Roberts, two-time Peabody-award winning independent radio artist and writer.
-- Sophorn Cheang, vice-president of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon, served as the Portland-based translator for the film, and other members of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon contributed to the project with voice-over work, subtitling, and additional translation.
The International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights was inaugurated in 2003. The event coincides with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s main session, and will take place at the Maison Des Arts Du Grutli in Geneva, the “human rights’ international capital.”