Angelina Jolie's new film, First They Killed My Father, is a tribute to the people of Cambodia
The adaptation of Loung Ung’s First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers is coming to Netflix soon. Directing this brutal story of the Pol Pot regime is Angelina Jolie, who wrote the film with Ung. The two first met 15 years ago and are close friends.
In this director’s editorial, Jolie discusses the importance of a film that Ung says is 'a story not just of my family but the story of a nation. I wasn’t going to trust it to anybody'. Jolie says, "If you know nothing about Cambodia and you see this film you won’t just think, 'These are people that suffered through a war.' You will think these are really interesting people, their roots and their personality, their humor, their love of music, their culture–it’s all of that. It has to be, in the end, this love letter to Cambodian people."
An adaptation of Loung Ung’s autobiographical book recounting her and her family's suffering under the Khmer Rouge, the Jolie-directed film depicts in vivid detail the forced evacuations from Phnom Penh, the journey to the brutal labour camps in the country’s northwest, and, for Ung, the conscription of children as soldiers into the ranks of the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea. Ung, who is portrayed in a highly emotional performance by child actress Sareum Srey Moch, was five years old when her family was ordered out of the capital.
In an interview with People, Jolie said that beyond highlighting the potential of Cambodia for filmmakers – foreign and domestic – she hopes the film will in some ways reintroduce the country to international audiences.
"I hope that people will not just look at this film as a history lesson but they will walk away with a new love and respect for the country," she said. Attending the film premiere with her six children – one of whom is Cambodian – Jolie has pledged to remain involved in supporting the local film industry.
The actress has stayed under the radar since her heavily publicised divorce with Brad Pitt in November last year.
Here is the director's featurette from the film: