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The Missing Picture

As the only family survivor of Pol Pot’s reign of terror (1975-1979), Cambodian-French director Rithy Panh has been searching for images all his life. While already a chronicler of Cambodia’s genocide, he shifts to his own childhood recollections with The Missing Picture. Unable to locate photos from the time, Panh uses hundreds of clay figures and dioramas to convey the action—the rice fields, the camps, the summary executions. Hand-carved and hand-painted, these figures stand in for Panh’s parents and family, along with key perpetrators. Scratchy, monochromatic stills from archival propaganda footage are eerily juxtaposed with these colorful, miniature people, all cleverly combining to fashion a moving autobiography. Winner of the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, The Missing Picture artfully explores Panh’s preoccupation with how to represent and remember all that’s been lost.

Genres: Documentary, Biography, Historical