New Year Baby

Movie Information

The Media Arts Project will present New Year Baby at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Fine Arts Theatre. Admission is $5, free to UNCA and WCU students.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Socheata Poeuv
Starring: Socheatu Poeuv, Non Poeuv, Houng Pouev, Scott Poeuv
Rated: NR

First-time filmmaker Socheatu Poeuv’s New Year Baby is one of those intensely personal documentaries that works as much as a journey for the filmmaker as for the viewer. In this case, however, it’s a journey that’s sufficiently involving for the viewer to want to go along. Poeuv starts her film with a clever hook: the revelation one Christmas with her family in Dallas that her older sisters are not her sisters, but her cousins, and that her older brother is, in fact, her half-brother from her mother’s first marriage. “I felt like I didn’t know my family at all,” she notes, deciding to find out exactly how all this came to be.

The simple answer lies in her parents’ status as refugees from the Khmer Rouge and dictator Pol Pot’s attempts to create his “classless society” in Cambodia, but that’s merely the background. But even that background is something we hear very little about these days, and it’s hardly the whole story of her family’s convoluted lineage. It’s her trip to Cambodia with her family to fill in the gaps in her understanding of that history and her background that makes up the bulk of the film. Not only is the story itself interesting—and cleverly structured to reveal its secrets in a dramatic fashion—but her approach to the documentary form is heightened by the inclusion of splendid, allegorical animated sequences (by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger) that comment on and sometimes convey the action. An altogether beautifully made film, New Year Baby is a movie of unusual substance.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.