Angelina Jolie’s much-anticipated film First They Killed My Father, the first major film about Cambodia’s genocide in over 30 years, makes its Netflix debut on September 15, 2017. Will its all-Cambodian cast and vivid scenes generate renewed interest in this period of the country’s history?
Directed and produced by award-winning Hollywood actress, director and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, the Netflix release of First They Killed My Father is released on Netflix on September 15, 2017. Based on a memoir by Loung Ung, a long-time friend of Jolie’s, the film describes the violent days of 1970s Cambodia when the regime took over the country, and mass murders, forced labor camps and torture prisons became part and parcel of daily Cambodian life under the regime, led by Pol Pot.
The author and Jolie became friends after the actress read Ung’s book of the same name, written from the perspective of a five-year-old Ung, from the forced evacuation in Phnom Penh to life in the Khmer Rouge camps. The two women have been friends for some 16 years and Ung both co-wrote the screenplay and was a consultant on set. Shot in Battambang and Siem Reap in late 2015 and early 2016 with a Cambodian cast and crew, around 500 Cambodians worked on the film, including Cambodian production team Bophana Production, founded by Rithy Panh, co-producer on the film and one of Cambodia’s most respected filmmakers, who lost several family members during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Over 3,500 background actors were employed to recreate the harrowing scenes of forced evacuations, battle scenes and the Vietnamese invasion which marked the end of the regime. These vivid scenes pull few punches and it is hoped that the film will educate Cambodia’s younger generation about the brutal regime, as some do not believe or do not know just how horrific it was.