Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film, 2014 Academy Awards
The Missing Picture was inspired by the book Rithy Panh co-wrote with Christophe Bataille, The Elimination: A Survivor of the Khmer Rouge Confronts his Past and the Commandant of the Killing Fields (Clerkenwell Press, 2013). The film won the highest award of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard selection.
Winner, Un Certain Regard Prize, Cannes Film Festival 2013
Available anytime online at Curzon Home Cinema (or for BT TV customers here)
Week Commencing 11.04.2014
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Rithy Panh is an internationally acclaimed Cambodian filmmaker of both feature and documentary films. He was born in 1964 in Phnom Penh. Like so many of his generation, he lost his father, mother and other members of his immediate family to starvation and overwork as a result of their confinement in Khmer Rouge labour camps. In 1979, he escaped the Khmer Rouge by crossing the border into Thailand. He took up residence in France the following year and later graduated from the French National Cinema School in Paris.
He started his career by directing documentaries for which he received numerous prizes: Site II (1989), Cinéma de notre temps: Souleymane Cissé (1990), Cambodge entre guerre et paix (1992). He dedicated his first feature film, Neak Srê (Rice People), to the memory of his family. Though not explicitly about the country's political upheaval, the film tells the story of a post-Khmer Rouge era family's struggle to survive from the land against the forces of nature. It was the first ever Cambodian film selected in the Cannes Film Festival competition.
In 1998, his second feature film, Un soir après la guerre, was selected in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. Since 1997, he has directed many documentaries, among which Lumière sur un massacre: 10 films contre 110 000 000 de mines (1997), Van Chan, une danseuse cambodgienne (1998), La Terre des âmes errantes (1999). S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2002) shown in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, was released widely and earned Rithy Panh numerous awards. The film is structured around interviews with former prison guards from Phnom Penh’s notorious Tuol Sleng prison, reuniting them with the prisoners who had once been under their watch.
Mr Panh was able to return to Cambodia in 1990 and now divides his time between residences in Cambodia and France. In Phnom Penh he founded the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre, the aim of which is to preserve the country’s film, photographic and audio history. The centre is named after the subject of one of Mr Panh’s early docudramas, Bophana: A Cambodian Tragedy, about a young woman who was tortured and killed at S-21 prison.
L’Image manquante (The Missing Picture) is Rithy Panh latest film.
2013 L'Image manquante (The Missing Picture) - Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival
2011 Gibier d'élevage
2011 Duch, le Maître des forges de l'enfer (Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell) - Special Screening, Cannes Film Festival
2007 Le Papier ne peut pas envelopper la braise - Best European Documentary
2005 Les Artistes du théâtre brûlé - Out of Competition, Cannes Film Festival
2003 Les Gens d'Angkor
2002 S21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge - Out of Competition, Cannes Film Festiva; Best European Documentary
2000 Que la barque se brise, que la jonque s’entrouvre
1999 La Terre des âmes errantes
1998 Van Chan, une danseuse cambodgienne
1997 10 films contre 110 000 000 de mines (short)
1996 Bophana, une tragedie cambodgienne
1995 La Famille Tan
1990 Cinéma, de notre temps : Souleymane Cissé
1989 Site II : aux abords des frontières
1988 Le Passé imparfait
2008 Un Barrage contre le Pacifique
1998 Un Soir après la guerre - Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival
1994 Neak Sre (Rice People) - Competition, Cannes Film Festival
|Written & Directed by||Rithy Panh|
|Produced by||Catherine Dussart|
|Text written by||Christophe Bataille|
|With the voice of||Randal Douc|
|Editors||Rithy Panh, Marie-Christine Rougerie|
|Special Effects||Narin Saobora|
|Sound||Touch Sopheakdey, Sam Kakada|
|Sound Mixing||Eric Tisserand|
|Coproduction||CDP, ARTE France, Bophana Production|
|With the support of||Région Ile-de-France|
|In collaboration with||Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée|
|the participation of||MEDIA Programme of the European Commission|
|with the support of||Procirep – Société des Producteurs, Angoa|
|96 minutes||France/Cambodia 2013|
'We are under the spell of The Missing Picture – an instant candidate for the year’s best documentary even in the year’s first week – from its earliest words.
Image by image, word by word, simplicities build the story of a true-life national tragedy…It engages, informs, moves, amazes, disturbs. It derails our way of looking at and thinking about a moment in history.
The Lilliputian model humans dressed in their rags are absurdly poignant. Starving; suffering; dying in model landscapes no less gnomic while also movingly faux-naif. The known facts are excruciating. Siblings, parents, friends were slain by starvation, cruelty, neglect. Yet the film’s rejection of rhetoric enhances its impact. We fill with our own emotions and imagination the blanks left in the mud-moulded faces, the child-art bodies (sometimes gently hunched in woe), and the toy-town-ish fields where claymation kiddie adventures should flourish but where, instead, we witness the pageant of a generation bleeding its lives, dreams and hopes into the ground.'
Nigel Andrews The Financial Times
This documentary by Cambodia's Rithy Panh is a devastating exploration of largely undocumented horrors by the Khmer Rouge.
“A cinematic memoir of the horrors inflicted by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-79, is an achingly sad, personal film about an inhumanity almost beyond imagining.
Panh tells the story by splicing his own narration – which takes on the quality of a searing poem – with archival film, and the manipulation of clay figurines, whose stumpy naivety emphasises the acute vulnerability of ordinary Cambodians.”
Jenny McCartney The Sunday Telegraph
"A powerful testament to incredible human resilience, movingly suffused by faith in the power of art to vanquish fathomless iniquity"
Trevor Johnston Time Out
“Panh’s remarkable new documentary works as a survivor’s testament, a film about memory and loss – and as a self-reflexive essay asking how atrocities should be depicted on screen…
Subtle, discreet and sensitive.”
Geoffry Macnab The Independent
The horrors of a childhood under Cambodia's Khmer Rouge are explored through animation and archive footage in this fascinating Oscar contender.
“A sombre, stylised memoir of the director’s childhood when his country had been taken over by the Khmer Rouge…
Startlingly, Panh tells his story through a mixture of Khmer Rouge propaganda newsreels and little clay figurines. It was perhaps the only way of managing the devastating memories.”
Peter Bradshaw The Guardian
A remarkable and unique film about Cambodia’s bloody history.
“Some documentaries grab you immediately and compel you to look at their subject in an entirely new light.
Panh’s distanced and philosophical perspective may remind you of the remarkable Chilean documentary Nostalgia for the Light; but what’s entirely particular to this film is how it digs into the very soil of the killing fields to give hand-sculpted form to its vanished past.”
Tim Robey The Daily Telegraph
“Panh portrays the past through dioramas using rough clay figurines – a technique which works marvellously, and has a great emotional as well as aesthetical effect”
Steve Rose The Guardian Guide
“I’ve never seen anything like this film…It’s a meditation on individualism and poetry; the power of image to remind and exorcise; the ruthless zeal of revolution; the endurance of memory and family, and the human will to survive.”
Jason Solomons The Mail on Sunday
“As disturbing as it is moving”
Kate Muir The Times
This is just one of hundreds of handmade clay figurines with which Panh recreates Phnom Penh as he remembers it, the camera tracking along miniature sidewalks and apartments as children and parents play tiny instruments and read tiny books. It is also how he recreates the camps, rendered as dioramas of jungle and rice paddy, with trees made of twigs, plastic leaves, and water droplets of epoxy resin. Despite their all-black uniforms, the prisoners remain as varied in appearance here as in the prewar flashbacks: bent by labor, curled up in pain, cheeks visibly gouged as they assemble in the dirt to listen to propaganda slogans like "There will be no more hunger."
Panh’s daring aestheticisation works, transcending the normal genre boundaries confining both personal and political histories.
Mark Asch Little White Lies
Cambodian film-maker Rithy Panh produces a haunting evocation of the Pol Pot era with the aid of clay figures and newsreels
Xan Brooks The Observer
★★★★"The Missing Picture is a cinematic experience that opens up, rather than closes down its material, and affirms humanity against all terrible odds."
Tom Birchenough The Arts Desk
'One of the essential titles in this year’s festival is “The Missing Picture.” Directed by Rithy Panh, this haunting, at times shocking movie — part memoir, part indictment — fills the void suggested by its title: it creates an image of madness, specifically the Khmer Rouge’s rule over Cambodia in the 1970s. When he was a boy, Mr. Panh and his family were forced from their home in 1975, the year the Khmer Rouge seized control. Only he survived. With extraordinary grace, he tells his story and that of his ravaged country, using archival visual material, a heartbreakingly intimate narration and small clay figures that, as they are whittled away, become stand-ins for the men, women and children subjected to incomprehensible horror.'
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
‘A profoundly personal meditation on a culture devastated and terminally affected by near-unimaginable cruelty and violence, the film confronts both the absence of official historical images and the inevitable subjectivity of remembered experience by deploying a mix of narration, archive footage, music, photos and recreation using tiny carved models. The result is moving and remarkably resonant.’
Geoff Andrew, Sight and Sound
‘A Cambodian memoir/documentary of force, intelligence and terrible beauty.’
Nigel Andrews, The Financial Times'Rithy Panh mixes media to great effect in 'The Missing Picture,' his intimate and evocative documentary exploring life amid a ruthless regime.'
Kenneth Turan The Los Angeles Times
‘A triumphant assertion of memory and creativity over a regime that attempted to destroy both.’
Kieron Corless, Sight and Sound
'...Any success he has in this impossible task comes from the film's brilliantly off-kilter visual coup: Panh recreates and reimagines these lost scenes of life under the Khmer Rouge using hundreds of miniature, hand-painted clay figurines. This allows him to visualize, in a tangible, profoundly affecting way, these otherwise unfathomable and, perhaps, unwatchable traumas.'
'An unshakable testament to the power of memory, re-creates the period in the unsettling form of kid-friendly dioramas, peopled with clay figures of black-shirted prisoners and sad farm animals. The conceit is tremendously daring…Unmissable.'
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
‘A gripping, fascinating and visually arresting memoir.’Jordan Hoffman, film.com
...'To make up for the pictures we don’t have, Panh uses small clay figurines, hundreds of them, painted, clothed, with individual expressions on their faces, and placed in meticulously detailed dioramas that he seems to have reconstructed from the memories of his youth. Among the first of these is a figure of Panh’s father, an official in the Ministry of Education in a white suit and dark tie who, in what Panh eventually came to see as a heroic act of resistance, starved himself to death rather than allowing himself to be treated as a farm animal by Cambodia’s rulers. There are scenes of Khmer Rouge hospitals where patients lay on beds of wooden planks. And, then there’s the scene in a village, again recreated with clay figurines, in which a nine year-old child who denounces his mother for eating a mango, an act of selfish individualism. Afterwards she is led into the forest and never returns.'
Richard Bernstein The New York Review of Books
'With this remarkable memoir of atrocity and transcendence, Panh has transformed that hopeless search into an opportunity for creative and historical triumph.'
Giovanna Fulvi, Toronto Film Festival Catalogue
Jordan Cronk, Reverse Shot
Read the full review
‘With its hopeful, celluloid-touting conclusion, The Missing Picture contextualizes cinema not only as a form of magic (capable of transformative, elated power), but also of revolution.’
‘A galvanizing account of a young boy's war-torn realities, successfully elucidating on the corrosion of his soul.’
‘A fascinatingly earnest and unique documentary experience… Rithy Panh acutely articulates a personal meditation on the loss of freedom and identity during the Khmer Rouge's ruling of Cambodia.’
Nick McCarthy, Slant Magazine
'A Hauntingly Poetic Work of Emotional and Historical Archeology...Panh confers upon us as viewers the shared responsibility to carry forward the stories of those no longer with us, so that the memories of these genocidal crimes are never forgotten. With The Missing Picture, a brilliant work of emotional and historical archeology, Rithy Panh has given us an artistically ideal vehicle with which to achieve this worthy goal.'
Christopher Bourne, Twitch