The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

About the Film

Filmed over 23 years, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) is the directorial debut of renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras in a remarkable collaboration with the film’s subject and co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath. After the U.S. government waged a secret war in Laos during the Vietnam War, Thavi’s father and thousands of other Laotians who had fought alongside American forces were abandoned and left to face imprisonment or execution. Hoping to find safety, Thavi’s family made a harrowing escape to America, where they discovered a different kind of war. Epic in scope yet devastatingly intimate, featuring an exquisite score by Academy Award winning composer Howard Shore, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) is a testament to the resilient bonds of family and an astonishing tale of survival. Visit the film’s site at thebetrayalmovie.com. Why we recommend it: An elevated, intimate account of one family’s escape. An excellent complement to documentaries that focus on the big picture of the bombings.

The Director or Producer

Ellen Kuras & Thavisouk Phrasavath

Ellen Kuras is highly regarded as the innovative cinematographer responsible for films from Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam and Bamboozled to Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind: Rewind. The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) is her directorial debut, a documentary she filmed over 23 years in an amazing collaboration with Thavisouk Phrasavath (Thavi), the film’s subject and its co-director. The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) is an epic documentary infused with an artistic cinematographer’s eye that tells the story of Thavi and his family on their journey from their home in Laos after the turmoil resulting from the U.S. military involvement in that country during the Vietnam War era. The story centers around how, when relocated to Brooklyn, Thavi and his family endure a series of painful transitions that include finding and then losing all over again the father of the family. It’s the rare film that presents an overarching view of the long-term consequences of war on a family, as well as the different kind of war that besets dislocated families that come to a new country. I sat down with both Kuras and co-director/subject Thavi soon before the New York premiere of the film.

Ellen Kuras & Thavisouk Phrasavath