The Missing Picture
Khatharya Um is associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion and associate professor and former coordinator of the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program at UC Berkeley. She is also core faculty of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies and cofounder of the Critical Refugee Studies Collective.
A daunting task that continues to confront media makers is how to represent the unrepresentable—calamities and atrocities of unimaginable magnitude. The challenge is even greater when the media maker himself is a survivor. Such is the case for veteran filmmaker Panh, who has committed his life to probing and exposing the Cambodian genocide and its aftermath. Having toiled in labor camps as a boy and watched his entire family die, he prepares to grapple with this childhood. Using clay figures, archival footage, and live action, Panh materializes the missing pictures for us, his companion witnesses. Stunningly vivid and achingly intimate.