A mother grieves a murdered son in Minneapolis. A Cambodian youth is forced into slave labor. An Aboriginal Australian toddler is torn from her loving family and placed in foster care by the government. These were the events that plunged Mary Johnson, Kilong Ung and Debra Hocking into a world filled with unimaginable trauma and loss. Yet each one not only survived, but thrived. How did their journey through grief bring them to profound compassion? How did they find it in their hearts to forgive the unforgivable?

Forgiving the Unforgivable is a thought-provoking documentary that explores resilience, and the difficult process of moving from grief to compassion to forgiveness. Through three unforgettable and uplifting stories, Forgiving the Unforgivable challenges us to examine our own beliefs about forgiveness and ask “What would the world look like if we could learn to forgive one another?”

Credits (Click to expand)

Directed by 

Dawn Mikkelson 

Produced by 

Miranda Wilson & Dawn Mikkelson 


Matt Ehling (United States) 

Jesse Roesler (Cambodia) 

Emma Paine (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 

Russell Hawkins (Weetapoona, Tasmania, Australia) 

Edited by 

Peter Rhodes 

Dawn Mikkelson 

Consulting Editor 

Doug Blush, A.C.E. 

Original Music by 

Chris Strouth 

Consulting Producer 

Lu Lippold 

Music Supervisor 

Kevin Beacham

Additional Camera Work 

Adrian Danciu 

Kent Truong 

D.A. Bullock 

Dawn Mikkelson 

Monte Swann 

Fritzie Borgwardt 

Heidi Tungseth 

Miranda Wilson 

Sound Design & Production Remix 

John Sims 

Festival Sound Mix 

Carly Zuckweiler 

Color Correction 

Matt Ehling 

Choral Music Recording 

Alek Roslik 

Associate Producers 

Matt Ehling 

Louisa Hext 

Producers - Kickstarter 

Charisse Baker 

Clyde Cutting 

Producers - Seed&Spark 

Ben Fuchs 

Mary Gearen 

Nancy Jacobs & Mark Sandercott 

Robin Shohet 

Joycelyn Wilson 

Findhorn Foundation 

Sundance Family Foundation 

Choral elements in original score 

Directed by Randall Davidson 

Recorded at Central Lutheran Church, MPLS 

Choir Members 

Eric Bartlett 

Abbie Bettinis 

Cindy Bergstrom 

Gabrielle Doran 

Matthew Ferguson 

Jon Guyton 

Whitney Hanson 

Ingrid Haugen 

Kathy Lee 

Maryann Malec 

Jisselle McCollam 

Chris Nelson 

Heather Nelson 

Gerry Schmidt 

Shahzore Shah 

Charles Smith 

Eric Smith 

Mallory Warner-Richter 

Jack Vishneski 

Kristen Winegar 



Written by Stephen Fandrich 

Performed by Seattle Harmonic Voices 

Courtesy of Monktail Creative Music Concern 

“Pangea (instrumental)” & "Eleven" 

Written & Performed by Big Cats 


Produced & Written by Cecil Otter Doomtree Records LLC 

"Senseless Waste" & "Tragic Result" 

Tom Phillips / OBT Music 

"Have Faith" 

Doug Hammer/Doug Hammer Music 


Jeesun Choi 

Monte Swann 

Heidi Tungseth 

Additional Footage 

Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center (Cambodia) 

Parliamentary Audio Visual Services (Australia)

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Library Sales 


Translation (Cambodia) 

Chanpanhara Oum – production 

Sopheak Hoeun – post-production 


Sandi Roesler 

Our incredible funders 

The Fetzer Institute 

The McKnight Foundation (2010 Fellowship) 

The Pachamama Alliance (Possible Futures) 

184 Kickstarter Backers including 

Lynn Ainsworth 

Cordelia Anderson 

Beth Bartlett 

Chanly Bob 

Regan Brashear 

Grant Broberg 

Sean Daley 

Constance Davis

Catherine Day 

Owen Flanagan 

Molly Hillstrom 

Ralph Jenson 

Karen Larsen 

John Leintz 

Brian Mogren 

Brenda Piekarski 

Johan Premfors 

Rita Shor 

Bonneary & David Simas 

Jon Springer 

Kevin Stifter 

Monte Swann 

346 Seed&Spark Supporters 


Kenneth Kunkle 

Daniel Boen 

Special Thanks (United States)

Mary (Johnson) Roy 

O'shea Israel 

JXTA Public Art Studio 

“Who We Are” Mural 

Designed by Youth and Adult Artists 

With Jamal Cyrus, Roger Cummings, And Tia Simone-Gardner.

Matt Anderson 

Susan Campion 

Sheri Candler 

Rosalyn Claret 

Jim Connell 

Julia Dinsmore 

Connie “CJ” Davis 

Anne Dykstra 

Dr. Owen Flanagan 

Bonnie Fournier 

Melody Gilbert 

Emily Goldberg 

Mary Hayes Grieco 

Christie Healey 

Dan Luke

Audrey & Michael Mikkelson 

James Moechnig 

Brian Mogren 

Julie Keck

Molly Orth 

Mark Panger 

Andrew Peterson 

Jay Pryor 

Phira Rehm 

Pablo Sanchez 

Jan Selby 

Justin Schell 

Norah Shapiro 

Reilly Tillman 

Basil Tsiokos

Lynne Twist 

Dr. Mark Umbreit 

Naomi Walker 

Erin Warhol 

Anna Wise 

Marie Zellar 

Capri Theater, Minneapolis 

Chicago Documentarians Support Group 

Docuclub Minnesota 

From Death to Life 

Hager City Book Club 

Mad Dads 

McDonalds, North Minneapolis 

MN Dept of Corrections 

The Smooch! Project 

Two Mothers 

U of M Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking 

Special Thanks (Cambodia)

Kilong Ung 

Lisa Ung 

Kilin Ung 

Kila Ung 

Chanly Bob 

Sopheap Chea 

Sophorn Cheang 

Tiara Delgado 

Lindsay French 

Melissa Lee 

Matine Morb 

Grace Neal 

Bonneary Simas 

Sivheng Ung 

Cambodian-American Community of Oregon 

Cambodia Film Commission 


Golden Leaf Education Foundation 

Special Thanks (Australia)

Debra Hocking 

William Charles Chandler V 

Chloe Moscrop 

Jeremy Ball 

Rosalind Brenner 

Patricia Danielson 

Christy Dena 

Richard Geeves 

Tjanara Goreng Goreng 

Barbara Randall 

Uncle Bob Randall 

Devorah Wainer 

Redfern Community Centre 

VA Digital Hire Pty Ltd, Sydney 

Additional Thanks

Will Braun 

Alex Cirillo 

Amira Cohen 

Christine Fetterley 

Ellen Grosh 

Dominic Howes 

Dain Ingebretson 

Kelly Johnson 

Rebecca Kingsley 

Dani Faith Leonard 

Maribel Lopez 

Maja Sahlberg 

Katherine Spallino

Nate Vaughn 


Midtown Global Market 

Additional US Interviews 

Bridget Archbold 

Pippi Ardennia 

Taalibah Qatadah As-Siddiq

Gill Baggett 

Pedro B. Bustamante

Andy Carlson 

Christopher Colbert

Leonard Columbus 

Andy Cook 

Angel Cradle 

Constance Davis 

Richard Daddi 

Samantha Daddi 

Hanna Esparaza

Mary Hayes Grieco 

Christina Habibi 

Jamal Hashi

Louisa Hext 

Billy Gordon Johnson 

Reyes Aluarez Junrez 

Ester L. Killion 

Virginia Kelly 

Kitty Kuluvar 

Alicia Lane 

Laura Larson 

Jerome V. Love

Adrienne Mason 

Kathy Mikkelson 

Brian McGibbon 

Joanne McGibbon 

Rebecca Poulon 

M. Ann Pritchard 

Naima Richmond 

Shining Starr 

Destiny Stelivan 

Constance Styles 

Princess Titus

Tarmen Tounzell Farrar 

John Vang 

Shawn Vue 

Patricia JB Ward 

Damon Wickland 

Cynthia Wold 

Melissa Zeck 

Additional Australia Interviews

Rosalind Brenner 

Rayila Maimaiti 

Joseph Mendoza 

Uncle Bob Randall 

Additional Cambodia Interviews

Huon Heang 

Chiem Huot 

Mek Khorn 

Krak Khun 

Lin Lay Sim 

Ou Laisim

Sun Leakhena

Sao Mai 

Matine Morb 

Yam Oun 

Seam Siev 

Sam Sinuon 

Loeung Sophannarak 

Chi Sorng 

Kva Yom Chenda 

Big Vision Empty Wallet


Kickstart Diversity Recipient




Thank you to all the incredible people we’ve met along the journey . . . 

Country of Origin: United States of America Emergence Pictures is the author of this motion picture for the purposes of U.S. copyright law and the Berne Convention, as well as other international laws giving effect thereto. 

Ownership of this motion picture is protected under the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any unauthorized duplication, distribution or exhibition of this motion picture or any part thereof (including soundtrack) could result in criminal prosecution as well as civil liability. 



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