The Missing Picture

Synopsis

There is a profound and delicate humanity in Rithy Panh’s telling of what, for most, is unimaginable: the atrocities that were suffered by people like Panh and his family under the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia in the seventies. Many pictures are missing from that time, though footage of Khmer Rouge propaganda tells a particularly glorified version of the story. Yet through his words and images, he fills in the gaps of history: partly, by creating simple carved clay figures placed on dioramas that represent scenes that exist in memory but not in pictures— the rice fields, the camps, the summary executions. And therein lies the brilliance of Panh’s achievement. Somehow, through these rudimentary miniatures and their enactment of his story, he allows us to witness the human experience below the surface of this tragedy with an incredible compassion. The Missing Picture won the top prize in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival.

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