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The Missing Picture


Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 6:30pm
Center for Korean Studies Building

Cambodia (2013, 92 mins)
English Narration

Director: Rithy Panh
Writers: Rithy Panh, Christophe Bataille (commentary)
Cinematography: Prum Mesa
Music: Marc Marder
Sculpter/Set Design: Saing Nang
Cast: Randal Douc (Narrator), Jean-Baptiste Phou (Narrator)

The audacity of “The Missing Picture” — a brilliant documentary about a child who held on to life in Cambodia’s killing fields — is equaled only by its soulfulness. On April 17, 1975, the day the Khmer Rouge seized the capital, Phnom Penh, the 13-year-old Rithy Panh, his family and millions more were driven from that city and other towns and villages and straight into hell. Four years later, many of his relatives, including his father, mother, sisters and a niece and nephew were dead; decades later, Mr. Panh, now a filmmaker, has told his story in a movie in which the act of remembrance serves as a form of resistance.

The movie, which turns historical reclamation into something of an exorcism, traces Mr. Panh and his family’s ordeal both through familiar documentary devices — including archival news footage, old photographs and haunting snippets of song — and, more radically, through carved and painted clay figurines that serve as human stand-ins (the figurines were created by Sarith Mang)…helping to reclaim the very human individuality that the Khmer Rouge sought to obliterate.

“The Missing Picture” made the short-list of Best Foreign Language Film at the 2014 Academy Awards. It is the first Cambodian film so honored.

-Manohla Dargis, New York Times