Angelina Jolie is hoping that with the release of her film “First They Killed My Father” on the horizon; which sheds light on the genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge communist party’s regime; the Cambodian people will take pride in what they survived instead of feeling hatred or resentment for what the country endured in the late 1970s.
Speaking with BBC in a behind the scene specials produced by BBC, Jolie noted that; “I hope this doesn’t bring up hatred. I hope the people of this country are proud when they see it, because they see what they’ve survived.”
Earlier in February, Jolie made her first official appearance at the premiere of her film in Cambodia since her split from Brad Pitt. She attended the event with her children at the event and was interviewed by the BBC.
The new film [is] based on the autobiography of Cambodian human rights activist Loung Ung, who is a friend of Jolie. It further tells the story of the devastation inflicted on the southeast Asian nation by the Khmer Rouge. More than 2 million people out of a total population of 7 million were [killed] during the purge, including Ung’s father, mother and two sisters.
Speaking further on the story, she said; “I thought, ‘What story do I feel is really important to tell? I felt this war that happened 40 years ago and what happened to these people was not properly understood. And not just for the world, but for the people of the country. I wanted them to be able to reflect on it in a way that they could absorb.”
The special behind the scene show covers the scope of what led to the human rights tragedy; and also sheds light on the lasting effect it has had on Cambodians — many of whom still suffer from survivor’s guilt.
Apart from interviewing Jolie, BBC also interviewed survivors to speak to what they endured, including one man who was [beaten] daily but kept alive because he was a mechanic. The BBC follows him as he returns to his cell for the first time. The network also interviewed one of the interrogators for the Khmer Rouge; and note the startling historical fact that only four people [were] ever [prosecuted] for the genocide. People who worked with the regime were not [arrested], only the top officials.
She further added; “I hope the people of this country are proud when they see it, because they see what they survived. And I hope it sheds light on what it is to be Cambodian; and the beauty and love of the family.”
Her connection with Cambodia began during the filming of Tomb Raider in 2000; which grew when she returned as a volunteer for the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.