Directed by John Severson
2011, 56 minutes
Purchase: $295 | Classroom rental: $95
A Perfect Soldier is an inspiring documentary about one manís journey from child soldier to international hero. As a young boy, Aki Ra was groomed to be an instrument of war by the Khmer Rouge regime. In his adult life, Aki Ra has worked to combat the violence in which he once took part by removing what he can of the 6 million landmines that still mar Cambodiaís countryside. Aki Ra was named one of CNNís Top 10 Heroes in 2010.
Aki Ra, born in Cambodia in 1970, lost both of his parents to the Khmer Rouge regime before he was six years old. This regime went on to kill nearly two million Cambodians, and it recruited Aki Ra as a child soldier along the way. First taught to shoot guns at birds for fun, and later instructed to lay anti-tank landmines along jungle roads, Aki Raís early life was ﬁlled with violence and chaos.
When the Vietnamese defeated the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Aki Ra was conscripted by the Vietnamese army and forced to ﬁght against the few remaining countrymen he had left. Aki Ra quickly became an expert at laying and removing landmines, and he began to teach others soldiers his skills.
When Aki Ra was in his early 20s, he escaped from the war and hid in Siem Reap. A few years later, he converted a shack outside Angkor Wat into a museum designed to house the remnants of his countryís war. He then began to remove the landmines that he had once laid, adding them to his collection. In addition to serving as a monument for the devastation of his past, the museum has also become home to approximately 20 orphaned landmine victims, providing them food, shelter, and education.
A Perfect Soldier examines the history of Cambodia and the Khmer rouge regime through the eyes of Aki Ra. Experts in the ﬁeld provide the historical context for his story, allowing viewers to both better understand Aki Raís individual struggles, as well as the devastation that the Cambodian people endured under Pol Pot.
* Winner, Moving Mountains Prize, Honorable Mention, Mountain Film Festival
* Winner, Laureate Award, Cinema Verite Film Festival
* Official Selection, Cinequest Film Festival
* Official Selection, Frontline London Media Club
* Official Selection, Kansas International Film Festival
* Official Selection, Vail International Film Festival
* 2013 Association for Asian Studies Film Expo
>> Read the National Geographic profile of Aki Ra HERE
" Highly Recommended [...] filmmaker Severson enables Aki Ra to tell his own story expanded by interviews with his family, a war psychologist and historical experts. Superb editing by producer Jonathan Lacocque blends these narratives with still photos and black and white footage to complete the story".- Educational Media Reviews Online