Nerakhoon (The Betrayal), the feature directorial debut of cinematographer Ellen Kuras, took 23 years to make. The film, about a family caught in the tides of war, is as much a history lesson about a part of the Vietnam War that is little known as it is a story of how co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath came to America at the age of 14 with his mother and nine siblings after his homeland, Laos fell to the Communists.
Thavi's father, a former commander with the Royal Laotian army, was recruited by the CIA to work intelligence along the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam War, as a part of the United States goverment's clandestine operations from Laos during the war. When the United States withdrew from Laos, Pathet Lao gained power and Thavi's father was declared an enemy of the state and sent to a "re-education" camp. Thavi, then just 12, was repeatedly arrested because of who his father was, and finally, in fear for his life, left his family to swim across the Mekong River to a refugee camp in Thailand, where he was finally reunited with his mother and siblings two years later.