An Analysis of Rithy Panh’s (and Mang Sarith’s) film, The Missing Picture (2014)




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1) When you consider the title of the film, The Missing Picture, what do you think the film is about? What kinds of pictures are missing? Who is erasing images of the past? Who do these “missing pictures” belong to? Do you think the “missing pictures” of a bygone culture and of former lives can ever be retrieved from an archive or from the collective memories of the survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide and revolution?

2) How does Rithy Panh (the filmmaker) go about retrieving images from the archive? What kinds of images (still and moving images) did he make use of and integrate into his film? Do you think Panh made effective use of these archival images? In your opinion, to what genre of film (or films) does The Missing Picture belong? Is it a biodocumentary? How effective is Panh’s use of clay figurines (note: the clay figurines are created Cambodian artist, Mang Sarith) as proxies in narrating his life (and the lives of other victims and perpetrators) and in conveying the violence and trauma that happened to him and his family members?

3) In your own words, please define “archive.” Discuss the different types of archive that Rithy Panh employs in The Missing Picture. Please do not google and just try to think on your terms after having watched the film carefully, what are some of the archives that Panh made use of and how do these different archives destabilized conventional definition of a physical archive?

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