The genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 was a singularly brutal event that took place largely outside of the world’s view, with a society devastated by Year Zero absolutism and a population terrorized and mass murder occurring on a scale remarkable even by the standards of the previous century.
Filmmaker Rithy Panh was one of the relatively lucky Cambodians, escaping to Paris at the onset of atrocity, and his movie The Missing Picture is an artist’s attempt to come to terms with the stories of his country’s people and his own vision. Fascinatingly, the film’s visual signature ties with chilling practicality into the reality of the Killing Fields: With so little visual record of the up to three million killings, Panh relies on archival footage and animated clay figures to accompany his own spoken narration.
The Missing Picture was nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It appears exclusively in the Twin Cities April 25-27 at the Walker Art Center; its haunting search for meaning and reality amid historical horror should prove to be compelling and deeply poignant.