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The Girl Who Spelled Freedom 

A Cambodian family is given sponsored immigration to the United States where one daughter becomes a spelling bee champion.


Simon Wincer
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins. See more awards »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Wayne Rogers ... George Thrash
Mary Kay Place ... Prissy Thrash
Kieu Chinh ... Phoen Yann
Kathleen Sisk Kathleen Sisk ... Laura Thrash
Margot Pinvidic Margot Pinvidic ... Mandy
Susan Walden ... Suanna
Blu Mankuma ... Henry Turner
Jade Chinn Jade Chinn ... Linn Yann
Diana Ung Diana Ung ... Kiev Yann
Linda Wong Linda Wong ... Yieng Yann
Jasmin Tam Jasmin Tam ... Ngor Yann
Wilson Lo Wilson Lo ... Chhoueng Yann
Raymond Lui ... Hing Yann
Robert Broyles Robert Broyles ... Jim
Shawn Clements Shawn Clements ... Billy


In the mid 1970's, a young girl's family must endure a nightmarish life in her native country of Cambodia under the domination of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. But things change for the better when an American family agrees to sponsor their immigration to the United States of America. They soon prove to have some difficulty adjusting to their new home as with language barriers and survival habits that are not necessary anymore, but are hard to break. While they are learning, one of the daughters struggles harder than the others and is personally driven to become a champion contender in spelling bees. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

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Unrated | See all certifications »





English | Khmer

Release Date:

23 February 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Story of Linn Yann See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The real Linn Yann was an extra in the film. See more »

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User Reviews

Great feel good movie about hard won victories!
2 August 2011 | by vnxettiSee all my reviews

This movie resonated with me on so many levels, being a Cambodian immigrant and yes, having won several spelling bees. It was so exciting to see a movie depict a sliver of what my family went through . We did not live with a host family but we had a huge amount of community assistance in our small town so the premise is not far-fetched in the least. Some bits are hammy, but c'mon, it's a 1986 made for TV movie...not Oscar winning but still great in it's own way. There are actually people out there that care enough to help others. And immigrants do live a much harsher life than Americans are used to, so it's not that surprising that she worked so hard to succeed, since failure equaled death in her experience. I applaud the efforts of the families working so hard to blend together and the little girl in the movie for her achievements. I plan on showing this to my own daughter because sometimes she forgets the horror that our people went through and also how resilient and triumphant humans we all can be.

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