Cannes 2013 Interview with Rithy Panh

Clay Souls: Interview with The Missing Picture director Rithy Panh

The acclaimed Cambodian French director’s new film, about his teenage years under the Khmer Rouge regime in the ‘70s, took home the top prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

by Ada Tseng

“For many years, I have been looking for the missing picture: a photograph taken between 1975 and 1979 by the Khmer Rouge when they ruled over Cambodia.” says director Rithy Panh, in the synopsis for The Missing Picture, a film based on his 2012 French memoir The Elimination: A Survivor of the Khmer Rouge Confronts his Past and the Commandant of the Killing Fields that was recently released in English on February 2013. 

Panh, who had lost all his family before escaping to a refugee camp in Thailand back in 1979, wanted answers, but after decades of searching in newspapers and video archives (much of which was official propaganda shot by the Khmer Rouge), he came to the conclusion that the picture he was looking for does not exist. The Missing Picture is his attempt to document his quest — and create his own images — through film. 

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