Price: $195.00

    Code: 2327

    Directed by Ellen Kuras
    Co-Directed by Thavisouk Phrasavath
    2008, 96 minutes
    Purchase: $195 Classroom Rental: $95
    For all other screenings, please call: (800) 723-5522

    The collateral impact of America's secret war in Laos is reflected in the extraordinary story of one family's struggle for survival - in Laos and later in the U.S. Filmed over the course of 23 years, The Betrayal is the directorial debut of famed cinematographer Ellen Kuras in collaboration with the film's subject and co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath.

    During the Vietnam War, the U.S. clandestinely operated in the neighboring country of Laos. By 1973 a secret air campaign had dropped more bombs on Laos than were used during WWI and WWII combined. Recruited by the CIA to work intelligence along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Thavisouk's father is exposed after America's retreat and is imprisoned by the ruling Communist government. The entire family comes under suspicion and their mother is forced to raise Thavi and his nine younger siblings alone. At the age thirteen, Thavi escapes across the Mekong River to Thailand, and is joined two years later by his mother and seven of his siblings. After living in a refugee camp the family seeks asylum in America, and is soon deposited in a crowded tenement in Brooklyn. Left to their own means by the government, the family struggles to survive and stay together, pulled by two different cultures, terrorized by local gangs, and haunted by memories.

    Renowned for her achievements as a Director of Photography, Ellen Kuras has worked for such directors as Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind) and Spike Lee (Summer of Sam, 4 Little Girls), among many others, and is a three-time winner of the Sundance Film Festival's prestigious Cinematography award.

    A lyrical melding of memoir, cinema verité and historical inquiry, The Betrayal is an exquisitely crafted tale of a country and a family torn asunder, and the long and painful process of repair.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * World Premiere, Sundance Film Festival, 2008
    * Winner, Cinereach award, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, 2008
    * Winner, Spectrum award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Berlin International Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Hot Docs Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Silverdocs Film Festival, 2008


    "The subjects addressed in The Betrayal could hardly be more enormous: war, revolution, the abandonment of a nation and the scattering of its citizens. But the film, though it includes old news clips of the war in Laos and of American presidents discussing that country’s fate, is distinguished by an intimate mood and a lyrical tone. It is quiet, contemplative and impressionistic, which makes the story it has to tell all the more powerful."
    - A.O. Scott, The New York Times

    “Lyrical, expansive, unbearably beautiful.”
    – David Edelstein, New York Magazine

    “A moving, lyrical, 23-years-in-the-making epic. Packs an emotional wallop.”
    – David Ansen, Newsweek

    Editor’s Choice [Four Stars] “A moving triumph of non-fiction filmmaking. A haunting, powerful documentary, this is highly recommended.”
    - Video Librarian

    “Exquisitely beautiful and emotionally compelling.”
    – Kenneth Turan, LA Times

    “Stunning. Life-affirming in the best possible way.”
    Jonathan Curiel, San Francisco Chronicle

    “Resolutely gripping! Brings an affecting personal dimension to a sprawling sociopolitical narrative, intimately detailing how the agendas designed to advance the interests of nations can destroy individual lives.”
    – Scott Foundas, Variety

    “A shimmering, absorbing experience that's both specific and general, both concrete and abstract. It's about one Laotian family in Brooklyn and about almost every immigrant family everywhere in the country, about the allure of America and its often ugly reality.”
    – Andrew O’Hehir,

    “A powerful documentary. Ellen Kuras documents one man’s – and one nation’s – tragedy.”
    – Melissa Anderson, Time Out New York

    "The Betrayal is a powerful work of anthropology.”
    – David D’Arcy, Screen Daily

    “An almost sinfully beautiful movie about ugly global realities. A rare new documentary that really belongs on the big screen.”
    Dennis Harvey, SF Bay Guardian

    “An extraordinary story. Exquisitely shot and remarkably beautiful.”
    – Martin Tsai, The New York Sun

    The Betrayal is refined, even delicate, filmmaking… A haunting flashback to the lush green and fiery orange phantasmagoria of wartime Indochina. Impressionistic and lyrical, as well as somber and gripping, The Betrayal conveys a ceaseless flow. It’s as if the filmmaker has opened a window onto a parallel world traveling beside our own.”
    – J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

    “Highly recommended for both public and academic collections. Deeply moving, inspiring yet at times heart wrenching. A skillful blend of archival footage, still images, pastoral scenes and cinéma verité, enhanced with Howard Shore’s exquisitely lyrical, haunting musical score, it is an extraordinary journey into the life and soul of a family.”
    Educational Media Reviews Online

    "A thoughtfully crafted feat of storytelling. Touches the heart.”
    – Mina Hochberg, AM-NY

    “A tale of this magnitude has to be told.”
    – Matthew Nestel, Box Office Magazine