Risking Light

Mary's son was murdered. Kilong was tortured. Debra was abducted as a baby. What would you do if given the opportunity to meet the people who destroyed your life? Three unique journeys to a surprising shared destination.

  • Dawn Mikkelson
    Shaping the Public, The Red Tail, Green Green Water, THIS obedience, Treading Water: a documentary
  • Miranda Wilson
  • Mary Roy (Johnson)
    Key Cast
  • O'shea Israel
    Key Cast
  • Kilong Ung
    Key Cast
  • Debra Hocking
    Key Cast
  • Matt Ehling
    Of Dolls and Murder, Open Season, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Make 'em Dance: The Hackberry Ramblers' Story
  • Jesse Roesler
    The Starfish Throwers, Man & Machine: A Naked Robotic Love Story, Insalata Caprese
  • Russell Hawkins
    Mary Meets Mohammad
  • Emma Paine
    Tell Her How You Feel, Forget Me Not, Emu, Seduce
  • Doug Blush
    Consulting Editor
    The Invisible War, The Hunting Ground, 20 Feet From Stardom,
  • Peter Rhodes
    The Last Mountain, The Price of Sugar, The Year We Thought About Love
  • Dawn Mikkelson
    Shaping the Public, The Red Tail, Green Green Water, THIS obedience, Treading Water: a documentary
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 27 minutes 6 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    191,843 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Australia, Cambodia, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Cinequest Film & VR Festival
    San Jose, CA
    United States
    March 3, 2018
    World Premiere
    Listed by both the San Francisco Chronicle and Mercury Sun as Top 10 Films of the Festival. Only documentary to make both lists.
  • Cleveland International Film Festival
    Cleveland, OH
    United States
    April 7, 2018
    Nominated: Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition
  • Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
    Melbourne, Victoria
    July 14, 2018
    Australian Premiere
  • Cambodia International Film Festival
    Phnom Penh
    March 12, 2019
    Southeast Asian Premiere
  • Awareness Film Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    October 4, 2018
  • Chania Film Festival
    Chania, Crete
    European Premiere
  • Human Rights Arts & Film Festival
    May 17, 2019
  • Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival
    Minneapolis, MN
    United States
    April 17, 2018
    Best of Fest
  • Flyway Film Festival
    Red Wing, MN
    United States
    May 20, 2018
    Special Screening
  • Duluth Superior Film Festival
    Duluth, MN
    United States
    June 2, 2018
    Official Selection
  • Cambodia Town Film Festival
    Long Beach, CA
    United States
    September 16, 2018
  • Big Water Film Festival
    Ashland, WI
    United States
    November 10, 2018
    Audience Favorite Award
  • Marine Film Series
    Marine on the St. Croix, MN
    United States
    October 4, 2018
    Opening Night Film
  • On Screen, In Person Film Tour

    United States
    March 20, 2020
  • Holden Village Film Festival
    Chelan, WA
    United States
    February 18, 2019
  • Human Rights Arts & Film Festival
    May 17, 2019
  • Reedy Reels Film Festival
    Greenville, SC
    United States
    November 3, 2018
Distribution Information
  • American Public Television
    Country: United States
    Rights: Free TV
  • CBC
    Country: Canada
    Rights: Free TV
  • Scorpion TV
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
  • Collective Eye
    Country: United States
Director Biography - Dawn Mikkelson

A 2018 and 2015 Emmy Award Winner and 2010 McKnight Filmmaking Fellow, Mikkelson has shown her work on PBS and international festivals including the Galway Film Fleadh, Cambridge Film Festival, IDFA, Leipzig DOK Market, and Washington DC Environmental Film Festival. Mikkelson has completed four award-winning independent feature documentaries, “The Red Tail”, “Green Green Water”, “THIS obedience”, and “Treading Water: a documentary”, all of which illuminate larger societal issues while creating understanding through the intimate stories of individuals. A former television news reporter, Mikkelson often speaks and writes for MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) and produces for TPT (Twin Cities PBS). Mikkelson is a Minnesota Film Fatales member.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

When I first envisioned this film, I saw it as an "evergreen" subject, but over the past year, a new urgency for these stories has emerged. While we live in an increasingly divisive culture, where our social media feeds are populated by outrage that reinforces our own biases and pain, how do we begin to talk with one another again? How do we move forward from devastating betrayals and traumas of our lives? These are the questions that are at the heart of “Risking Light”.

The subjects of “Risking Light” are from the United States, Cambodia, and Australia. Each of them experience profound trauma and each of them are deeply human and flawed in their own ways. What does make them unique is not sainthood, but their bravery and commitment to feeling emotions that many people run away from. No religious or academic experts, just the lived experiences of four remarkable people -- Mary, O’shea, Kilong, and Debra – as they anguish, hate, and, finally, forgive.

That the act of forgiveness in "Risking Light" is foremost about healing for the victims, which has the effect of ending the cycle of violence that seems to be at the root of so many of our conflicts, both personal and political.

“Risking Light” has already created national and international dialogue.  Soon after launching our first video about Mary and O’shea on the internet in 2011, the story went viral. Mary and O’shea were featured on the ABC Evening News, NPR’s Story Corps, People Magazine, and ABC’s “The View”. There was a clear hunger for these stories, but the results were limited by the format of short-form journalism.

This film has been in production for 7 years and took our team around the world, powered by a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 for production and another successful Seed&Spark campaign in 2016 for post-production.

“Risking Light” was a finalist in the #UntoldStory Crowdfunding Contest by Project Greenlight and Seed&Spark. We were also honored to screen a short work-in-progress clip by invitation of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, curated by Deirdre Haj of Full Frame Film Festival.

We’ve worked with an amazing crew, including consulting Editor Doug Blush (The Hunting Ground, The Invisible War, 20 Feet from Stardom) editor Peter Rhodes (The Price of Sugar, The Last Mountain, The Year We Thought About Love).

I am proud of our final film and look forward to sharing it with festival audiences around the world.