Watch: First They Killed My Father interviews with Angelina Jolie and Loung Ung
Staff Reporter | On 15, Sep 2017Reading time: 7 mins
First They Killed My Father is out today in Curzon cinemas and on Netflix. Directed by Angelina Jolie, the film is based Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung’s gripping memoir of surviving the deadly Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1978. The story is told through her eyes, from the age of five, when the Khmer Rouge came to power. The film depicts the indomitable spirit and devotion of Loung and her family as they struggle to stay together during the Khmer Rouge years.
To mark the film’s premiere, Netflix has released a new behind-the-scenes video, featuring interviews with Jolie and Loung Ung:
First They Killed My Father is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
Trailer: Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father set for September release
2nd August 2017
Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father will premiere this September on Netflix.
The movie is an adaptation of Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung’s gripping memoir of surviving the deadly Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1978. The story is told through her eyes, from the age of five, when the Khmer Rouge came to power, to nine years old. The film depicts the indomitable spirit and devotion of Loung and her family as they struggle to stay together during the Khmer Rouge years.
The project was first announced back in 2015, but now, we have our first glimpse of the finished film, as Netflix unveils the movie’s trailer.
The video arrives in a week where the film has already been receiving attention in the media, after Angelina Jolie was accused of treating Cambodian children unfairly when casting the film. The actress recruited local kids to star in the film, explaining in a Vanity Fair interview that they used a game involving giving them money before taking it away. They were “specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship”, she explained, and then asked them to snatch some money, before being asked to come up with lie for why they stole it once caught.
“Srey Moch [who was selected for the lead role] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,” Jolie said. “When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion… When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.”
“I am upset that a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario,” Jolie has since responded in a statement, after some branded her casting process exploitative.
“The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war and to help fight to protect them. The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened. Every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present.”
First They Killed My Father will premiere on Netflix on Friday 15th September, when it will also be released in US cinemas – a sure sign that Netflix, much like its documentary One of Us, has its eye on next year’s awards race.
Angelina Jolie: First They Killed My Father is “love letter to Cambodian people”
20th February 2017
Angelina Jolie has described her Netflix film First They Killed My Father as a “love letter to Cambodian people”.
The actress and director’s new movie is based upon First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, a memoir from Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung about surviving the deadly Khmer Rouge regime.
Ung helped adapt the book for the screen, with Cambodian director and producer Rithy Panh producing the project.
The movie, which was first announced two years ago, premiered in Siem Reap at the weekend, screening at the Terrace of the Elephant in the ancient Angkor Wat temple. It was presented to Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, along with government officials and Jolie and her family. Her children were all present, including 13-year-old Pax, 11-year-old Zahara, 10-year-old Shiloh, and eight-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne. 15-year-old Maddox, her eldest, was born in Cambodia and, alongside Pax, was involved in the film’s production.
At a press conference for the premiere, Jolie said she thinks of the country as “a second home”, adding: “Maddox is happy to be back in his country.”
Jolie has also released a promotional video for the movie, with behind-the-scenes insight from her and Ung about the project.
“The heart of it is Loung’s story. It’s the story of a war through the eyes of a child,” says Jolie in the vidoe. “But it is also the story of a country.”
First They Killed My Father will be released worldwide on Netflix later this year.
Angelina Jolie to direct war drama for Netflix
24th July 2015
Angelina Jolie Pitt will direct a Cambodia war drama for Netflix.
Jolie Pitt will direct and produce the Netflix Original film, which is based upon First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, a harrowing and poignant memoir from Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung about surviving the deadly Khmer Rouge regime. Ung has helped adapt the book for the screen, while Cambodian director and producer Rithy Panh, director of the Oscar-nominated The Missing Picture, will produce the project.
Loung Ung was five years old when the Khmer Rouge assumed power over Cambodia in 1975 and began a four-year reign of terror and genocide in which nearly two million Cambodians died. Forced from her family‘s home in Phnom Penh, Ung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while her six siblings were sent to labor camps. Ung survived and wrote her memoir, which was first published in 2000. Jolie Pitt read the book and contacted Ung over a decade ago and they became close friends.
Loung Ung is currently writing her first novel, and is a co-owner of Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland, Ohio. Since 1995, Loung has made over 30 trips back to Cambodia and has devoted herself to helping her native land heal from the traumas of war.
“Angelina and I met in 2001 in Cambodia, and immediately, I trusted Angelina‘s heart,” she comments. “It is with great honor that I entrust my family‘s story to Angelina to adapt into a film.”
Jolie Pitt‘s Cambodian-born son, Maddox, will also be involved in the production.
“I was deeply affected by Loung‘s book,” says Jolie Pitt. “It deepened forever my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it. And it helped me draw closer still to the people of Cambodia, my son‘s homeland.”
The project follows the announcement of another Netflix original project, a war satire (War Machine) starring and produced by Angelina’s husband, Brad Pitt. Both are expected to be big awards contenders, as Netflix steps up both the star quality of its original production arm and its awards credentials.
Netflix‘s global reach was a major factor in Jolie Pitt’s desire to partner with the streaming service.
“Films like this are hard to watch but important to see,” continues Jolie Pitt. “They are also hard to get made. Netflix is making this possible, and I am looking forward to working with them and excited that the film will reach so many people.”
First They Killed My Father will begin production later this year in Cambodia and will precede Jolie Pitt‘s filming of Africa, which focuses on paleo-anthropologist Dr. Richard Leakey‘s decades-long fight to save Africa from the illegal wildlife trade.
The film will be released in both Khmer and English in late 2016 and will also be submitted to “major international festivals”.