Rithy Panh: The Missing Picture

Co-editor of filmkommentaren.dk Allan Berg did not like the still picture that I had picked for the article on the Oscar race for documentaries. I am sure it is because he has not seen this amazingly strong hybrid documentary that competes in the foreign-language feature film catagory. A first person film, and now I quote from Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, a reviewer I always respect:

… ”a sombre, stylised memoir of the director’s childhood when his country had been taken over by the Khmer Rouge… Panh tells his story through a mixture of Khmer Rouge propaganda newsreels and little clay figurines (photo). It was perhaps the only way of managing the devastating memories. Rather as infant victims of abuse will sometimes be asked by social workers to tell their story through soft toys, Panh tells part of his own history through these figurines. As well as this stratum of tragedy and pain, The Missing Picture has an element of Godardian reflection: the “missing picture” is the definitive image of truth for which he is searching…”

Yes, Godard is here, there and everywhere… and Panh’s film has the most touching and eloquent personal commentary I have heard for a long time.


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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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