Long Beach Post: CTFF and Art Theatre host The Missing Picture

Art Theatre to Host U.S. Premiere of Cambodia’s First Oscar-Nominated Film

Original source: LONG BEACH POST

Long Beach and Cambodia are sharing simultaneous firsts this weekend with Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture: the movie marks the first-ever Academy Award nomination for any film out of Cambodia and its showing at the Art Theatre starting this Friday marks the first ever U.S. premiere of a major film in Long Beach.

The premiere of a Cambodian-made film of such cultural and critical significance is something that many local leaders feel marks a specific step forward in solidifying Long Beach’s large Cambodian community’s presence as a cultural force.

“The Cambodian community is continuing to make strides here in Long Beach and around the world,” said Chad Sammeth, a Cambodian-born Long Beacher who is active in many of the city’s Cambodian organizations. “A new generation of leaders are emerging and we are experiencing a resurgence of creative minds and forward thinkers.”

The Missing Picture—part artistic essay in stop-motion animation, part documentary—explores Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge genocide through Panh’s personal journey.

“That we are able to open The Missing Picture here in Long Beach is a great honor for the Art Theatre and our community,” said Jan Robert van Dijs, owner and operator of the Art Theatre. “This is the first ever Oscar nominated film from Cambodia and the first time we have ever premiered an Oscar-nominated film at the Art, and to our knowledge Long Beach. Normally, these openings are held concurrently in New York and Los Angeles and would be shown here several several weeks later.”

The Art Theatre and the Cambodia Town Film Festival (CTFF) committee worked diligently to convince Panh that Long Beach superseded more common premiere cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

“I think celebrating The Missing Picture as it premieres in Long Beach—one of the only places officially coined Cambodia Town—is profound,” said CTFF co-founder Caylee So. “It brings about a sense of collective pride. With everything that is occurring in Cambodia in the present time, I think having a film nominated for an Oscar is something that unites us. There is excitement and awe over the achievements of this film—and rightfully so.”

The film—which already won the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes last year—will vie for the Best Foreign Language Film on March 2, where Panh will represent Cambodia at the Academy Awards. His presence represents growing exposure for Cambodian filmmakers, one that began last year with the inaugural Cambodia Town Film Festival, which was held over two days at the Art Theatre.

“One of the reasons we founded a Cambodia Town Film Festival was that we wanted to contribute to the resurgence of Cambodian arts and cinema after its 40 years of decline,” So said. “We had felt an energy that no longer wanted to be contained, and we wanted a way to provide support. What better way than to be proud of our culture?”

The Missing Picture will have its US premiere this Friday at the Art Theatre, located at 2025 E 4th Street. For information and tickets, visit www.arttheatrelongbeach.com.

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