01/01/2014 13:20 GMT | Updated 03/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Film Review - The Missing Picture

"An emotionally powerful, original and unforgettable reflection on unbelievable horror".


Director: Rithy Panh Producer: Catherine Dussart Text: Christophe Bataille Sculptor: Sarith Mang Photography: Prum Mesa Genre: Documentary Country of Origin: France , Cambodia 2013 Language: French with English subtitles Winner, Un Certain Regard Prize, Cannes Film Festival 2013 96 mins. Rating:****


'The Missing Picture' is adapted from the autobiographical sections of Rithy Panh's 2013 book 'The Elimination' exploring the story of his family before and after the Kymer Rouge entered Phnom Penh.


Pol Pot's communist regime took over the Cambodian capital on April 17th 1975. This was Year Zero and Rithy Panh was eleven years old. Citizens were rounded up and sent to agricultural labour camps. With the ostensible purpose of eliminating class divisions, all personal effects were confiscated. Individuals became numbers and torture and executions were undertaken for the slightest infraction. The regime was built on mass deprivation and fear and hunger soon dominated. Between 1975 and 1979 two million Cambodians died including Rithy Panh's parents, siblings and extended family and Cambodian culture and recorded history teetered on the brink of extinction.


This compelling, deeply personal and emotionally powerful account of Rithy Panh's childhood mixed with the violence of the Cambodian genocide is overlaid by a chillingly calm and detached narration and made all the more visually powerful by the imaginative use of miniature clay figures and archive footage of the Kymer Rouge propaganda films which are the only cinematic records of the re-education programme of 1975 - 79.

It's an emotionally moving, sorrowful and harrowing reflection of innocence cruelly defiled by Pol Pot's regime - how can fellow humans be capable of such brutality ?


'The Missing Picture' is released by New Wave Films 3rd January 2014 in selected cinemas.