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Disappointment in Phnom Penh as Italian Film Wins Oscar

  • Kong Sothanarith
  • VOA Khmer

At the film preservation Bophana Center in Phnom Penh, a small gathering of people watched the Academy Awards on Sunday night, hoping “The Missing Picture” would win for best foreign language film.

Disappointment was the word of the day, however, as the award went to the Italian film, “The Great Beauty.”

“I regret that we couldn’t win,” said Mang Sarith, a member of the film’s production crew, who carved some 300 figures in clay to help illustrate life under the Khmer Rouge.

Both films dealt with memory and the past. Rithy Panh’s “The Missing Picture” is a memoir, exploring memories of the Khmer Rouge and its brutality. “The Great Beauty” is a film about nostalgia, age and regret. Both films were well regarded and received awards leading into the Oscars.

“We are still proud,” said Christofaros Pavlakis, a spokesman for the Bophana Center. “We are proud of ‘The Missing Picture,’ and we congratulate the director of the Oscar winner.”

Despite not winning its own Oscar, “The Missing Picture’s” nomination was a historic first for Cambodians.

“I feel disappointed, but also enthusiastic, because our Cambodian film met international competition,” said Pho Sophoan, a student of history at Royal Phnom Penh University.