Rithy Panh is a film-maker who is followed and cherished by the Festival de Cannes. In Competition with his first movie, Rice People (1994), he returned in 1998 with One Evening after the War in Un Certain Regard. He had two movies shown Out of Competition, S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine in 2003 and The Burnt Theatre in 2005, followed in 2011 by Duch in Special Screenings. This year, he is in Un Certain Regard with The Missing Picture.
The work of the Cambodian film-maker is entirely devoted to the Khmer genocide, which decimated his family and disrupted his childhood. In L’Image manquante (The Missing Picture), for the first time, he evokes this tragedy in the first person. L’Image manquante is inspired by the book The Elimination, also told in the first person, which he co-wrote with Christophe Bataille, and which was first published in French in 2012.
How did your film come about?
For some time, I had this idea of the missing picture. I went on location with the Pléiade complete works of René Char, a skull in plastic that you can take apart (eyes, ears, brain and so forth), a statuette of a flayed human body - still in fluorescent plastic - and several "maps" of acupuncture points ... Then the rest came bit by bit, image by image, sequence after sequence...
Do you have a memory, a story from the set?
After a year of shooting here and there, I was faced with the problem of the disappearance of the people and places I was talking about and of which there was no trace left. I decided to change everything and tell the story through characters modelled in clay. I felt a sort of trippy drunkenness, a breath of fresh air and freedom, my assistant wondered if I hadn't been smoking grass....
Photo © RR
What kind of cinema influences you?
Everything and almost nothing... in the end, any cinema that is free, daring, inventive.
Sunday 19 May / Debussy Theatre / 11.00am - 4.30pm