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Acquisitions – Foreign Films

Strand Carves out a Future for Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture

Rithy Panh’s Un Certain Regard (Cannes ’13) winning docu that I recently had the chance to catch up with in Karlovy Vary (and personally think would make for a “perfect double bill with The Act of Killing“) will have waited a couple of months before finding a distrib home with the Strand Releasing folks. The Missing Picture get some fall festival screenings (TIFF would be a shoe-in stop) mileage prior to launching theatrically next spring.

Gist: 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…On its own, of course, an image cannot prove mass murder, but it gives us cause for thought, prompts us to meditate, to record History. I searched for it vainly in the archives, in old papers, in the country villages of Cambodia. Today I know: this image must be missing. I was not really looking for it; would it not be obscene and insignificant? So I created it. What I give you today is neither the picture nor the search for a unique image, but the picture of a quest: the quest that cinema allows.

Worth Noting: For more on Panh’s filmography on the Khmer rouge – you’ll want to visit his Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell and his 2003 award-winning masterpiece S21: The Khmer Killing Machine (about two former prisoners of the regime who met with their former captors).

Do We Care?: I found Panh’s voice-over, archival footage on top of maquette-like, clay figure representations of the Cambodian genocide to be remarkably engrossing manner in which to evoke personal memory merged with history fact. This is a must see.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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