In 2002, the United States began deporting former Cambodian refugees with criminal offenses, even those who had arrived as children or infants following the Cambodian genocide. The documentary “Resident Aliens” follows three Cambodian American outcasts forced to resettle in the unforgiving city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the land of their birth. It’s a story of finding your way in an unfamiliar world.
KK, China and Looney – all former gang members and ex-cons – are Cambodian refugees whose families survived a genocide that wiped out nearly a fifth of the country’s population. (See Enemies of the People). They grew up in the United States but were deported along with hundreds of others – after felony convictions – to a country they hardly knew.
With few skills, little money and no family to fall back on, they face new obstacles as they follow different paths towards reconciliation and redemption. While China and Looney erect emotional walls to keep the world at bay, KK, through breakdancing, takes on the challenge of helping kids in even more desperate circumstances than him.
The documentary makes its premiere on the East Coast during the 2011 NY Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF).
Resident Aliens trailer