English News

Angelina Jolie to unveil Khmer Rouge film in 'second home' Cambodia

It is the second movie by Jolie to tackle the subject of genocide, but her latest silver screen offering is more personal. 

Published: 18th February 2017 01:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2017 07:28 AM   |  A+A-

By AFP

CAMBODIA: Angelina Jolie will unveil her new film on the horrors of the Khmer Rouge era on Saturday at the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, a country the star shares a deep affinity with through her adopted son Maddox.

Cambodia's king and survivors of the communist regime will be among some 1,500 people invited to the debut screening of "First They Killed My Father", directed by Jolie and based on the memoirs of Loung Ung.

Loung Ung was five years old when Khmer Rouge troops, led by Pol Pot, swept into Phnom Penh plunging her family into a harrowing ordeal that saw them sent to brutal labour camps before her eventual escape to the United States.

In its quest for an agrarian Marxist utopia, the regime killed up to two million Cambodians between 1975-79 through execution, starvation and overwork.

It is the second movie by Jolie to tackle the subject of genocide -- in 2011 she made a film about the Bosnian conflict featuring mostly local actors. 

But her latest silver screen offering is more personal. 

Jolie adopted her first child Maddox from an orphanage in Cambodia's western Battambang province in 2002 and she has been given Cambodian citizenship. 

The Hollywood star previously said it was Maddox who pushed her to make the film. 

At a press conference in Siem Reap, Jolie described Cambodia as a "second home", adding that she chose Loung Ung's book because she wanted to tell the story of the Khmer Rouge era "through the eyes of a child".

It also brought her closer to her son, she said. 

"I wanted to focus not just on the war but on the love of family and on the beauty of the country and in fact I wanted to understand what my son's birth parents may have gone through. And I wanted to know him better and I wanted to know this country better," she said.

Maddox is accompanying his mother on the trip and was seen visiting the Angkor temple complex on Friday.

 

- Local cast and language -

 

In a tribute to those who survived the brutal regime, Jolie has pushed to ensure the film would be both made by Cambodians and accessible to them.

Almost the entire film is in the Khmer language while the cast members and much of the crew were local hires, including the two child protagonists.

The film is also co-produced by Rithy Panh, Cambodia's most acclaimed filmmaker. 

He lost almost all his immediate family during the Khmer Rouge years but went on to produce searing documentaries that helped break the silence surrounding the genocide.

Loung Ung, who Jolie described as a "family friend", said that while the film centred on her family's experience, her story would be familiar to all Cambodians. 

"I view it as the story of all of us," she told reporters.

Despite the prosecution of a few top Khmer Rouge cadres, the genocide continues to be a controversial subject. 

Strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was a former regime cadre before he defected and has run the impoverished country for more than thirty years, is opposed to any new prosecutions of regime leaders.

But the Cambodian government has welcomed Jolie's film so far. 

"The movie reflects the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime," Sin Chanchhaya, director of Cambodia's Cinema and Cultural Diffusion Department, told AFP.

"This is a big deal for us. There is a strong interest among the Cambodian people (for the film)," he added. 

The premiere will be followed by screenings across Cambodia, some seven months before the film is released to a global audience on Netflix.

Jolie's arrival in Cambodia marks a rare public appearance since her high-profile split last year from Brad Pitt.

Together they had brought up Hollywood's most celebrated family with three of their six children adopted from overseas.

Stay up to date on all the latest Entertainment English news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

Latest