SBS Film

14 May 2009 - 11:14 AM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:07 PM


The Australian documentary My Khmer Heart is a remarkable story of Geraldine Cox. FILMINK's Dov Kornits spoke with My Khmer Heart's director Janine Hosking.

After an award-winning career in TV journalism, Janine Hosking threw her own money into a project about the remarkable Australian woman Geraldine Cox. And once you see this story on the screen in My Khmer Heart you'll know exactly why Hosking persisted.
“Geraldine was speaking at the Canberra Press Club when I was a journalist for the Witness program,” explains Hosking about her first meeting with Geraldine Cox. “She gripped people when she was speaking. I had been to Cambodia before, I passionately wanted to tell a story of the country, and her way seemed to be accessible.”

This was of course before Hosking had discovered Cox's amazing personal story or the way she constantly got into hot water.

“She constantly amazed me with the trouble that she got herself into and out of. In that sense it was fun to do and also terrible because you're always thinking, 'where is this going?' She's such a strong domineering woman that in the end you think, 'I'm mad if I don't go with this'.

“I had no idea that her orphanage was in trouble. I am glad things worked out for her but if these things hadn't have happened we would have had a much weaker storyline. So on one hand I was feeling really bad for her and on the other I'm thinking 'wow here we go, now we have a documentary.'”

Through the fascinating journey with the candidly honest Geraldine Cox, My Khmer Heart becomes an emotional film. It makes one wonder whether Hosking's background in TV journalism has leant My Khmer Heart a tabloid, manipulative quality.

“Did we want to be entertaining? Yeah,” says Hosking proudly. “But I really think that general audiences will understand what happened in Cambodia in the '70s through the film. I think it's a sensible story and I think Geraldine is a strong personality who drives the narrative. Every time I thought that maybe I should be doing more about landmines or human rights trials, something else would come up with Geraldine and in the end she forced what line we went through.”