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Cambodian Film an Oscar Finalist in Historical First

Cambodian director Rithy Panh waves as he poses during a photo call, Oct. 24, 2008 (File)
A Cambodian film for the first time in history has been named a finalist for an Oscar.

Rithy Panh’s “The Missing Picture” is a memoir and documentary that uses clay figures and film archives to describe the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.

Rithy Panh told VOA Khmer Thursday that the announcement should encourage other Cambodian artists, filmmakers and actors “that they have a chance to be recognized on the international stage.”

The film took two years to make, and much of that time was spent training Cambodian staff for filming. Filming itself took about eight months.

The story describes Rithy Panh’s life as a young boy when the Khmer Rouge came to power. It is a story about memory, dedicated to parents and relatives who died under the brutal regime.

As a survivor, Rithy Panh said he was proud to complete the film with a Cambodian crew.

The Academy Awards will be held March 2, but Rithy Panh said the announcement of his film as a finalist was some necessary good news for Cambodians.

“Right now Cambodia has a lot of political tension,” he said. “This is good news that could get our youth excited. Sometimes we need good news like this.”