How does a country return from the edge of the abyss? What happens when a five-year-old, adrift at sea, is caught in the currents of geopolitics?

The Wilson Center partnered with Smithsonian and CNN, respectively, to host special Washington screenings of two groundbreaking documentaries: “Angkor Awakens,” a stirring look into Cambodia’s past and present, and “Elián,” a gripping and comprehensive account of the story of its namesake.

How could Cambodia, a country filled with such “friendly” people, orchestrate one of the worst genocides in history? That’s just one of the questions that “Angkor Awakens” attempts to address through a series of gut-wrenching interviews with survivors of the Khmer Rouge. The film also examines Nixon and Kissinger’s secret bombing of Cambodia and features an unprecedented appearance by former Khmer Rouge commander, current Prime Minister Hun Sen.

A standing-room-only crowd was on hand for the May 8 screening, which featured a discussion with director Robert H. Lieberman, moderated by Robert Hathaway, the former Director of Wilson’s Asia Program.

The event was the first in a series of planned collaborations with Smithsonian.

Co-sponsored by CNN Films, Gravitas Ventures and the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program, the Washington premier of “Elián” offered audience-members a comprehensive portrait of a young boy caught between two worlds.

On Thanksgiving Day 1999, Elián González was found clinging to an inner tube off the Florida coast after his mother and ten others drowned trying to reach the United States from Cuba. The wrenching custody battle that followed, pitting the boy’s Cuban father against relatives in Miami, captivated the American public and dominated TV news. With absorbing interviews and archival footage, the documentary feature film explores the saga and its consequences for one family, the Cuban-American community and U.S. policy toward Havana.

Tim Golden, the film’s writer and co-director and a public policy fellow at the Wilson Center, moderated a special discussion panel that followed the May 9 screening. Each panelist on hand had been personally involved in the fight over the boy, including Gregory Craig, former White House Counsel and lawyer for Juan Miguel González, Elián’s father.

Watch for announcements of future events at www.wilsoncenter.org.