Art Theatre hosting Oscar nominee

Published: Feb. 27, 2014 Updated: Feb. 28, 2014 11:02 a.m.

On the eve of the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Long Beach will have its own slice of the Oscar pie.

Director Rithy Panh, whose “The Missing Picture” is the first Cambodian film nominated for an Academy Award, will attend a special showing of the movie, followed by a question-and-answer session. The movie will be aired at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Art Theatre, 2025 E. Fourth St.

“I think it’s great for the city,” said Prach Ly, co-founder and director of the Cambodia Town Film Festival. “He’s doing this a day before the Academy Awards. He could be anywhere else, and he chose to be in Long Beach.”

Panh, 51, has become something of a media sensation since his film received the nomination. Winners will be announced Sunday.

The movie tells Panh’s personal story of survival during the Khmer Rouge genocide that began in 1975 and left about 2 million dead, including members of Panh’s family. Panh first detailed his experience in a 2012 memoir, “The Elimination.”

The movie blends first-person narration by Randal Duoc, as Panh, with propaganda clips from the Khmer Rouge and archival footage. Particularly striking is the depiction of Panh’s deceased relatives and other Cambodians through sculpted clay figurines.

Ly said that when the movie made its U.S. premiere a week ago in Long Beach, a number of Cambodians reacted to the clay figures in ways they wouldn’t have to real actors.

“They said, ‘That’s my mom’ or ‘That’s my dad,’” Ly said.

“The Missing Picture” has enjoyed critical success and awards, including the “Un Certain Regard” prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Panh had actually submitted the film to the Cambodia Town Film Festival, but it was withdrawn after a distributor was found.

CTFF Founder and Directors, praCh and Caylee So. At the premiere of Rithy Panh’s Oscar Nominated film, The Missing Picture, at the Art Theatre Long Beach.

Panh has been making films for 25 years. This is his second submission to the Academy. His 1994 “Rice People” was not accepted. The only other Cambodian film submitted to the Academy for consideration was last year’s “Lost Loves.”

Panh’s film is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film with European films “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” “The Great Beauty” and “The Hunt” and Palestinian film “Omar.”

Ly says “The Missing Picture” is striking on many levels.

“I was in awe of it,” he said. “Every time I watch it I get something different.”

To Ly, Panh is a winner for all Cambodian filmmakers.

“We’re already proud of what he’s achieved. We’re now in the same breath with the international stage,” Ly said. “We’re now internationally recognized.”

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