The Missing Picture

Director: Rithy Panh
Year Released: 2013
Rating: 3.0

Panh recounts the torturous conditions he and his relatives experienced at the hands of the Khmer Rouge - led by insidious Pol Pot - in Cambodia, being denied access to health care, adequate food and forced to work in heinous conditions (those deemed 'subversive' were executed; Panh's father went on a hunger strike out as a form of protest and perished). The narration is poetic and touching, as Panh attempts to make peace with a traumatic part of his own life (and a dark time in his country's history); the action figures, carved out of clay and crudely painted, add a surreal (and earthy) touch to an inhuman 'reeducation' program that ended up massacring millions. The use of figurine stand-ins and tiny sets do act as a bit of a distancing device, but Panh's deeply-considered narration and calculated use of stock footage balances things out.