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MISSING PICTURE, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Rithy Panh uses small, individually carved clay figures, archival footage, and narration to recreate the atrocities Cambodia's Khmer Rouge committed between 1975 and 1979 in which his entire family perished, along with millions of others.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
We're all familiar with the importance of our family albums, the first treasures to rescue in a calamity, so The Missing Picture is an easy concept to understand. But it's still surprising how the symbolism becomes so powerful as we watch personal and political history intertwine in the context of the Khmer Rouge reign of destruction in the mid 1970.

It is the absence of any truthful imagery from that hateful time that prompted Cambodian expat Rithy Panh to recreate images from his memories. The archival footage of the era is mostly propaganda made by Pol Pot's crews, but the effect of those lying images is to surcharge the symbolic figures and render them potent. Little clay figures, mouths agape, arms raised, crying in pain, dying of starvation ... each little figure drawing us in with their silence and their stillness like great actors.

The tone of the film is necessarily somber, its subject matter devastating, its ability to cast fresh light on a history we have almost forgotten unsettling and compelling. There are no answers to the questions raised: where were we when this monstrosity was unfolding. Too constrained by the notion of national sovereignty to do nothing. Better that millions die of torture and hunger than that the free world step foot inside this sovereign state.

And where was god hiding?

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MISSING PICTURE, THE (M)
(Cambodia/France, 2013)

CAST: Documentary

NARRATION: Randal Douc

PRODUCER: Catherine Dussart

DIRECTOR: Rithy Panh

SCRIPT: Christophe Bataille, Rithy Panh

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Prum Mesa

EDITOR: Rithy Panh, Marie-Christine Rougerie

MUSIC: Marc Marder

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sarith Mang (sculptor)

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sahrmill Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 20, 2014







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