There's a slightly awkward but brief moment of silence as Rithy Panh raises his eyes and waits for the next question. He knows where this is going.
The Cambodian filmmaker has made digging into the past his raison d'etre, no matter how dark things might get. But there is a need from this side of the room for a pause, at least, to consider how to ask a man to explain the way that he has dealt with the loss of his entire family.
"What can you do?" is how Panh begins, shrugging his shoulders as if to stress that we are simply dealing with matters of fact.
"I cannot forget even though I would like to. You have to learn how to live with this pain. When you have survived a genocide, it is like you have died already and you are reborn again. But you are reborn with this death inside you and you have to talk," he says.
Panh was just 13 years old when the Khmer Rouge came into power in his homeland in 1975 and launched a four-year genocide that would claim the lives of an estimated two million people, including his parents and siblings. He was able to escape the brutalities of the labour camp where they perished and make his way from Thailand to, eventually, Paris. But nothing can erase the memories of what he saw and as the young Panh grew, he became aware of his need to revisit this past - and to tell the world about it.
"I learned that I cannot write, I cannot sing, but I can make films," says the 51-year-old director. "When I started there was a lot of pain. There was no glamour as this is my history. But 25 years later, I enjoy cinema. In the beginning, I felt like it was I either made film or I died. It was how I coped with what I had seen and lived. There was no discussion, it was what I had to do."
After studying filmmaking in France, Panh returned to Cambodia in 1990 and began to use cinema as a means through which he could explore - and deal with - his past, and his country's past.
In his acclaimed documentaries Site 2 (1989), The Land of Wandering Souls (2000) and S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2004), Panh focused on families and individuals caught up on both sides of the terror. He did the same in two feature films: Rice People (1994) and One Evening After the War (1998). But it is the director's most recent production that is his most personal.
In The Missing Picture, Panh tries to establish exactly what happened to his family using a creative - and often challenging - mixture of the real (archival footage) and the imagined (scenes played out using clay dolls). What the director wants his audience to see is that in such horrific situations there is never any real black or white.
"You don't survive a regime like that because you are stronger or more clever than others," he says. "You survive because people who die help you. So you have to transmit a message, sometimes a very simple message. Someone might have told you, 'If you meet my family, tell them that I love them.' You have to transmit that - it is what a survivor has to do. And that is why I do what I do. It is like I am transmitting the dignity of my people."
The Missing Picture won the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year and has been put forward for Oscar consideration by the Cambodian film industry.
Panh will meanwhile be the Director in Focus at this year's Hong Kong Asian Film Festival, where the six films mentioned so far will screen along with Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers (2007), the filmmaker's documentary about prostitution in Phnom Penh.
When we meet, Panh has just been named Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the 18th Busan International Film Festival, with organisers of the South Korean event praising him for both his films and the work he has been doing trying to preserve Cambodia's cinematic history.
Panh has helped establish the Bophana: Audiovisual Resource Centre in Phnom Penh, where he oversees the collection and storage of any archival material his team can find - from photos to audio tapes to old newsreels and videos - while helping to mentor a new generation of Cambodian filmmakers.
"I am happy," he says of the attention he has been getting this year. "I am happy for me but also for the team at the Bophana centre. They are working hard to save our film archive. In a small country like Cambodia, we are losing our memories every day.
"The prints only last 100 years if you have good storage conditions and we don't have that. Plus the Khmer Rouge destroyed everything they could. So we are working against time. We are losing our images, or songs, our language every day, so I hope this award can bring attention to our work."
The influence of this work is spreading beyond Cambodia's borders, with archivists from across the globe visiting the Bophana centre to see how Panh's team is able to transfer old film stock to the digital format.
"It's about creating access to memories," says Panh. "People now are coming from all over Asia and from Africa to see what we are doing. We are sharing our knowledge, the software we have developed, so they can save their history as well."
The director says there has been a gradual awakening in Cambodia as the younger generation has begun to ask questions about the country's history and the older generation - those who survived the Khmer Rouge atrocities - become more comfortable with facing up to the past. He recalls times when his early documentaries would play in the capital and he could count the number of audience members on one hand. But The Missing Picture sold out screenings and Panh hopes it will encourage further debate - and further healing.
"I know it is hard for people today to tell their children how they could not defend their grandparents, their cousins. But it has to be done - you cannot turn over a blank page.
"Maybe the banality of evil is in human nature. But every day you have to look to the good, to the people who resist, to the people who continue to love."
Director in Focus - Rithy Panh: Scars & Memory of Cambodia , part of the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival which runs through to November 19