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dateOctober 17, 2023 timeTuesday, 6:30pm–8:30pm EDT location Buell Hall, East Gallery (Maison Française), Columbia University
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Alliance Program
  • Department of History
  • European Institute
  • Institute of African Studies
  • Knapp Family Foundation
  • Villa Albertine
  • Columbia Maison Française
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Small toys being drawn along on a chain gang in a wooded area

Documentary film screening followed by a discussion and Q&A with Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer.

The Missing Picture (L'Image manquante) (2013) Documentary, 92 min

Film in French and Khmer with English subtitles.

“For many years, I have been looking for the missing picture: a photograph taken between 1975 and 1979 by the Khmer Rouge when they ruled over Cambodia…”. With his sixteenth documentary, The Missing Picture, Rithy Panh continues to explore the traumas of Cambodian society, particularly the genocide inflicted by the Khmer Rouge regime against its fellow citizens in the 1970s. In this moving documentary, Panh takes a different approach from that taken in his previous films such as S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003) and Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell (2012). This is his most autobiographical work, and he uses multiple media to tell the story, notably clay miniatures. The Khmer Rouge deliberately erased traces of its own history and of Cambodia’s past, and this is a remarkable endeavor to show the picture that has been missing, and to tell this story against the silencing of witnesses. The Missing Picture (2013) was the first Cambodian film to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film.

Watch the trailer here.

Winner Un Certain Regard Award, Cannes Film Festival 2013
International Cinephile Society Award for Best Documentary 2015
Cinemanila International Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Winner 2013
Lumière Award for Best Documentary 2016
Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film 2014
César Awards Nominee for Best Documentary Film 2016


Marianne Hirsch is the William Peterfield Trent Professor Emerita of English and Comparative Literature and the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender at Columbia University. Among her many research interests, those most relevant to this discussion of Rithy Panh’s movie are Film, Media and Visual Studies; Cultural Memory; Holocaust Studies; and the transmission of memories of violence across generations, for which she invented the term “post-memory.”

Leo Spitzer is the K. T. Vernon Professor of History Emeritus and Research Professor at Dartmouth College. He is a cultural and comparative historian and a writer working in the interdisciplinary field of Memory Studies. On the basis of research in Africa, Latin America, and Europe, he employs photography, personal and familial oral history, and wide ranging testimonial materials to examine responses to colonialism and domination as well as postmemories of subordination and genocide.

This film is presented as part of the Columbia University Maison Française 2023 Film Festival, Across Generations: Unveiling the Past, Embracing the Present. The festival was curated by Shanny Peer, Fanny Guex, and Ilana Custos-Quatreville. The full festival program can be found HERE.