The Killing Fields to Enemies of the People (to name just two very different films), the experience has been brought home again and again. Now, Rithy Panh, who back in 2003 gave us another documentary on the subject, S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, approaches this story -- his own and that of his family -- in a very different way. His new film THE MISSING PICTURE is a work of art: both as a finished film, and as the conduit for artfully contrived nostalgia, in which clay figurines of people are used against miniature settings to bring his movie to very odd, moving, sweet and sad life.
Randal Douc), with English subtitles, the movie offers up Mr. Panh's story (the filmmaker is shown at right) using a host of tiny carved clay figures that don't move but are simply set into their various environments. This is not, thankfully, animation. Instead, these figures -- carved with care and often featuring wonderfully expressive faces (considering their primitive but artful look) -- make fascinating stand-ins for the real people, now mostly long deceased.
Strand Releasing, opens in New York City this coming Wednesday, March 19, at Film Forum, and in Los Angeles on Friday, March 21, at Laemmle's Royal and Playhouse 7 and for Saturday and Sunday matinees only at the Claremont 5.