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Director Rithy Panh’s film submitted to the Academy

Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh poses at his office at the Bophana Center in Phnom Penh
Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh poses at his office at the Bophana Center in Phnom Penh. AFP

Director Rithy Panh’s film submitted to the Academy

Cambodian director Rithy Panh’s film The Missing Picture has been submitted for the 86th Academy Awards.

The movie, which tells Panh’s autobiographical story of how his family members were killed during the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s, has been selected as Cambodia’s entry for the Oscars’ Best Foreign Language Film category.

A shortlist of the 76 entries will be announced in January next year, followed by the final nominations and then the official winners in March.

Cambodia has previously submitted two films to the category, the first being the docudrama Rice People in 1994, also directed by Panh and depicting a rural family attempting to put their lives back together after the Khmer Rouge.

Lost Loves, a drama also dealing with the Khmer Rouge regime and directed by Chhay Bora, was submitted last year.

Panh, who escaped to Thailand following the Khmer Rouge and then to France where he learned filmmaking skills, was named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea last week.

Earlier this year, he won the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes International Film Festival.

The Missing Picture uses clay figures, previously unscreened archival footage of the Pol Pot era and narration to depict the plight of Panh’s family.

Mariam Arthur, chairwoman of the Cambodia Oscar Selection Committee, which selected the film for submission, said the panel members were incredibly moved by the film.

“They felt that it told a story in a new way and in a very avant-garde cinematic way, and that it was worthy of representing Cambodia to the world,” she said.

Cedric Eloy, CEO of the Cambodia Film Commission, said: “We are very happy that the film will compete with the best films of the world in the Academy competition.

“We are convinced that this film is very unique in its form and has a universal outreach.

“It summarises the work of a lifetime that Rithy Panh has pursued throughout his career.”

He added: “An Academy Award nomination or award for The Missing Picture would mean very special visibility, but [even without this] Cambodian cinema has been on the way up in the last few years.”

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