Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - "The Missing Picture" moves a step closer to the Oscars



"The Missing Picture" moves a step closer to the Oscars

Filmmaker Rithy Panh used clay figures to illustrate the horrors of the Khmer Rouge
A still from The Missing Picture. Filmmaker Rithy Panh used clay figures to illustrate the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. PHOTO SUPPLIED

"The Missing Picture" moves a step closer to the Oscars

Cambodian-French director Rithy Panh’s film The Missing Picture has moved a step closer to an Academy Award after being named as one of the final nine foreign language films in the competition.

The films announced on Friday were whittled down from a list of 76 revealed in October by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises Hollywood’s biggest annual awards ceremony.

They will be reduced to five nominees next month, before nods in all Oscar categories are announced on January 16. The 86th Academy Awards will be held on March 2.

Panh told The Phnom Penh Post that being among the final nine was a significant achievement.

“If it can go on to be nominated, if we are lucky enough to be nominated, it’s better – but at this stage it’s already very, very good,” Panh said.

He said the film’s success had already thrown a spotlight on the Cambodian industry and shown it was capable of cooperating with international production companies.

“It’s important to open the country like this and cooperate with other production [companies],” he said. “Cambodia is a small country. It’s not really a big market. If you want to move [to the next level] you have to cooperate with other countries.”

The Missing Picture, which explores Panh’s experiences and memories of the Khmer Rouge period using miniature clay figures against stylised backdrops and archive footage, has already received one of film’s highest plaudits, winning the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year.

Panh is set to begin work with French director Regis Wargnier on the French-Cambodian co-production of The Gate next year after the two countries signed an agreement on cooperation. The film will be a dramatisation of the memoirs of French ethnologist Francois Bizot, who spent three months in a Khmer Rouge prison camp.

Cedric Eloy, chief executive at the Cambodian Film Commission, said the shortlisting of a Cambodian film for an Oscar showed recognition of the country’s capacity to produce films universal and accessible enough to be received positively worldwide.

“It’s very encouraging for future projects,” Eloy said.

He added that the Cambodian industry was developing positively “step by step” with more films being made, more questions asked about Cambodia and more contact with foreign producers.

“I’m sure if The Missing Picture gets the Oscar it will give [the local industry] a big push,” he said. “So of course we cross the fingers … but there are a lot of good films that are competing.”

The shortlist announced on Friday offered some unexpected snubs. Left out were highly-touted films such as Saudi Arabia’s first candidate ever, Wadjda by Haifaa al-Mansour, and Pakistan’s first entry in five decades, Zinda Bhaag.

Only two other Cambodian films have ever been submitted to the Academy Awards for consideration. Chhay Bora’s 2010 film Lost Loves, a love story set during the time of the Khmer Rouge, was submitted in 2012 but did not make the final shortlist. Panh’s 1994 drama The Rice People was also submitted.

The other films on this year’s shortlist are: The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (Bosnia and Herzegovina), The Hunt (Denmark), Two Lives (Germany), The Grandmaster (Hong Kong), The Notebook (Hungary), The Great Beauty (Italy) and Omar (Palestine).

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested