Netflix/Pax Thien Jolie Pitt(NEW YORK) — Angelina Jolie hopes the her new film, First They Killed My Father, depicts the suffering, and the resilience, of the Cambodian people “in a way that they deserve to be seen.”
The drama, which the Oscar-winner produced and directed, debuts today on Netflix and in select theaters. It’s based on the memoir by Cambodian author Loung Ung, a survivor of the murderous Communist Pol Pot regime.
“Cambodia has a beautiful, ancient, thousands-of-year-old … glorious past, but also a past that … has, war and genocide,” Jolie told ABC News’ Juju Chang. “And it’s something that isn’t spoken about.”
First They Killed My Father is an unflinching account of the Cambodian genocide as told through the eyes of a child. When people “talk about … crimes against humanity and war,” Ung said, “They forget that the most vulnerable victims … are the children.”
Jolie, whose other directorial efforts include Unbreakable and In the Land of Blood and Honey, said she makes films about war to try to educate others, so history doesn’t repeat itself.
“This is not 40 years ago. This is today,” she says. “We have 45 million people displaced today. We have so many ongoing wars. We’re seeing ethnic cleansing. We’re seeing murder, death, starvation.”
“What is worse is then, we could say, ‘If we knew.’ We know. We know so much more now.”
Cambodia is close to the Jolie’s heart. She’s a citizen of the southeast Asian nation, and her oldest son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, 16, — who serves as an executive producer on the film — was adopted from there.
“This wasn’t as much about him becoming a filmmaker as him working with his countrymen,” Jolie said, calling her son’s bonding with his home country one of the most important things that came out of making the film.
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