Winner 2011

Who Killed Chea Vichea?

Loud Mouth Films, Limited, Independent Television Service (ITVS)

Cambodia exports clothing worth $2 billion to the United States each year. Its average garment worker makes about 28 cents per hour. Who Killed Chea Vichea? investigates the brazen murder of a prominent union activist. It‘s enterprising and chilling to watch. There‘s video of Chea Vichea talking about death threats and news footage of him lying dead and bleeding on a Phnom Penh sidewalk. An alleged shooter and a driver were convicted in a trial at which they produced multiple alibi witnesses while the prosecution called no one. The producers tracked down several who agreed to speak on camera only if their faces were disguised. “In Cambodia, if you know things, you can die,” one says. The only eyewitness to the assassination, a street vendor, insists the convicted men weren‘t the ones she saw. She lives in U.S. now, having sought political asylum. The film makes a case for police operatives having assassinated Vichea at the behest of the ruling political party. It also suggests that he was killed to scare a more important opposition figure, Sam Rainsy, a pro-labor presidential candidate. The documentary is so artfully shot and assembled that it can seem like a noir detective drama. But Vichea‘s case is tragically real. His widow says their daughter still asks, “Why was my father killed if he was good?”; “It‘s because our country has no law,” she says. For shining light on a crime that reverberates on two continents, Who Killed Chea Vichea? receives a Peabody Award.


Executive Producer: Sally Jo Fifer (for ITVS). Producers: Rich Garella, Jeffrey Saunders. Director: Bradley Cox. Writers: Bradley Cox, Rich Garella. Narrator: Eric Milano. Original Score: Gil Talmi. Principal Editor: Matyas Veress. Editors: Will Barton, Jay Shapiro, Tina Pacheco. Script Consultant: Fernanda Rossi. Re-Recording Mixer: Tom Paul. Graphics: Dave Hill. Sound Design: Eric Milano. Principal Translation: Ellen Sea