The Missing Picture. 2013. Cambodia/France. Directed by Rithy Pan. 92 min.
Born in 1964 in Cambodia, Rithy Panh watched his parents and siblings die of starvation, forced labor, and execution at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Throughout his illustrious film career, Panh has borne witness to the war crimes of Pol Pot and his thugs, both in fiction (Rice People) and nonfiction (S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine), but never with the complexity and nuance of his latest documentary hybrid, The Missing Picture. Mixing staged tableaux of animated clay figurines with archival footage, still photographs, and song fragments, The Missing Picture is a startlingly imaginative and tough-minded attempt to recover a more truthful history of Cambodia—both harrowing and tender—than the propagandistic lies and false utopian dreams that inhabited, and poisoned, his earliest childhood memories and deepened the nation’s collective trauma. Courtesy of Strand Releasing.