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BYU grads' award-nominated film 'River of Victory' features family's triumph over living conditions

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 17 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

The film was nominated for the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award from the International Documentary Association. According to Wright, this was the first nomination for BYU and the film was only one of two American films nominated for the award. Several hundred student films were submitted in the category.

“It’s not a story about a dump, it is a story about a family who just happens to live in a dump and how they come together and to overcome some of these things,” Wright explained. “That was kind of the driving force was meeting these people there and realizing how incredible they were. We just wanted to share that with people.”

Wright and Smith hope to continue to bring attention to the conditions in Cambodia. A film from Italy won the award, but Smith is honored “River of Victory” was recognized.

“Hopefully this (nomination) will help us get more exposure and help us get screenings,” Wright said. “The next step is to get it out there, get it seen, get it premiered and distributed so more people can see the film.”

They would also like to return to Steung Meanchey and locate Ki and Sang Ly. In 2009, the dump was relocated further outside the city, but some residents, like Ki, commute to the new landfill for work. Wright has lost contact with the family but he does know that they still live in the landfill and he hopes to find them and help them.

“You can be happy in whatever situation,” Wright said. “It doesn’t matter where you live or what your circumstances are.”

Smith agreed and noted, “Happiness doesn’t come from object and things. It comes from relationships”

Smith and his wife, Amy Leah Nelson, recently returned from Cambodia, where he is working on a new project about an orphanage. Nelson said that the dump was another way for the people to be resourceful. For example, many Cambodians who work in factories make $50 a month. To possibly make $2.50-$5 a day at Steung Meanchey is considered a great job.

“Let’s not focus on the past tragic stuff,” Smith said. “Let’s think about what is happening in the future and look at the brightness of the future.”

“Of what could happen, not what has happened,” Nelson added.

For more information and to view the trailer, visit www.riverofvictory.com online. For information about CCF, visit cambodianchildrensfund.org.

Email: calexander@desnews.com

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