Tuesday, July 28, 2015








Angelina Jolie visited yesterday the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center, where Rithy Panh is director. The two are working together to make the film ‘First They Killed My Father,’ about a young girl, Loung Ung, fighting to survive under the Khmer Rouge. Photo: Tom Stoddart/ Getty Reportage

Angelina Jolie Starts Scouting Cambodia Locations

Khmer Times/James Brooke
Tuesday, 28 July 2015


PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Angelina Jolie toured Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum yesterday and then watched Khmer Rouge era archival footage at the Bophana Center.

For the Hollywood actress and director, it was the start of researching Cambodia locations for her upcoming film adaptation of a Khmer Rouge era memoir, “First They Killed My Father.”

Although Ms. Jolie has 15 years of comings and goings in Cambodia, her random movements elicited a flurry of Instagram photos and Facebook postings: Angelina posing with waitresses at a Blue Pumpkin café in Siem Reap; Angelina riding a tuk tuk in Siem Reap, and Angelina with Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh leaving the Toul Sleng death camp museum in BKK3.

“We will be spending the next few months scouting for locations, casting the film, but most importantly researching every event to make sure it is historically accurate and will pay respect not only to Loung Ung and her family, but to every single individual who suffered under the Khmer Rouge,” she said referring to the Cambodian woman who captured on paper her life as a young girl under Khmer Rouge rule.

Shooting starts in November

“We are in preparations from July on and will be shooting from November to the end of January,” she said in a statement after visiting the Bophana Center, which is on Street 200, off Monivong.

“The film will be shot in-country with Cambodian cast and crew and in the Cambodian language,” she continued. “It will be made for and with Cambodians. I look forward to working with the Cambodian production team, Bophana Productions, and all the great local artists.”

Her ethnic Cambodian son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, age 13, is to have an acting role. Ms. Jolie and her husband, Brad Pitt, adopted Maddox shortly after her first big Cambodia-based movie, Tomb Raider, came out in 2001. Shortly after adopting Maddox, she and Mr. Pitt founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, a Battambang-based NGO devoted to protecting the environment and alleviating rural poverty in northwestern Cambodia.

Commitment to Cambodia

In her statement, Ms. Jolie stressed her commitment to Cambodia.

“The intent of this project is not to revisit the horrors of the war, but to bring to the screen characters that people around the world will identify with and empathize with and help to teach people about this country that I love and respect, and the Cambodian culture and family life I so admire,” she said.

“The book is a guide to one young girl’s story, and we will complete the story drawing on the experiences of other and adding them to the film,” she said. “Through her story we will be telling many stories, so that the film is not just based on the memory of one child but on the collective memory of the people of Cambodia.”

Ms. Jolie has directed two films.

 The first, In the Land of Blood and Honey, won mixed reviews after opening in December 2011. Four months later, this film about atrocities in Bosnia had drawn only $300,000 in box office receipts, a pittance compared to the $13 million production budget.

Her second, Unbroken, a World War II drama, has fared far better since it opened on Christmas Day, 2014. It has earned $161.5 million at the worldwide box office revenues, well over its production cost of $65 million. Last February, Unbroken received three Oscar nominations.

Film Advisors Survived Khmer Rouge

For the new Khmer Rouge film, Rithy, Cambodia’s only Oscar-nominated director, will play an advisory role. Through personal experience, Mr. Rithy is an authority on the Khmer Rouge era. The Maoists expelled his family from Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, the day before his 11th birthday. They were exiled to a remote labor camp where his parents, sisters and nephews died of starvation or exhaustion. He escaped to Thailand in 1979.

As a refugee in Paris, he ended up studying filmmaking. He returned to Cambodia in 1990. Over the subsequent quarter century, most of his 18 films have explored and documented facets of the Khmer Rouge era.

Loung Ung, author of “First They Killed My Father,” shares a comparable biography.

The communists expelled her family from Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, around her 5th birthday. The family split up and she was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans. She published her memoir published in 2000 and it has become a Cambodian best-seller. The cover photo of the little girl refugee in a Thai refugee camp peers out at tourists at airport book stores here and in Siem Reap.

“I am humbled and honored by the responsibility of bringing First They Killed My Father to the screen,” Ms. Jolie said yesterday. “The film is based on the emotional memory of Loung Ung from 5-8 years old. The film will be shot from the child’s perspective: it is a child’s view of war and a child’s understanding and point of view.”

Ms. Jolie co-wrote the film script with Ms. Ung, who lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, with her American husband and their children. She is national spokesperson for the Campaign for a Landmine-Free World and is part owner of a restaurant and a brewery. “First They Killed My Father” has been translated into Khmer and was expanded into a trilogy. Now she is working on her first novel.

In a press release last week, Ms. Ung said she first met Ms. Jolie in 2001 in Cambodia and immediately “trusted Angelina’s heart.”

“Through the years, we have become close friends, and my admiration for Angelina as a woman, a mother, a filmmaker, and a humanitarian has only grown,” she said. “It is with great honor that I entrust my family’s story to Angelina to adapt into a film.”





Last weekend in Siem Reap, Angelina Jolie stopped by a Blue Pumpkin for a fruit shake and a coffee. Here she poses with the waitstaff. Photo: Facebook





PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia helped Angelina Jolie become a film superstar and start a family. To tell the stories of people in the country that touched her, she is directing a Netflix film on location based on a memoir of the country's 1970s holocaust under the communist Khmer Rouge, blamed for the deaths of 1.7 million people.

And her Cambodian-born son Maddox will help with research and preparation for the film, Jolie said Tuesday in an email interview with The Associated Press.

Jolie's 2001 hit, "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," was filmed partly at Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat temple complex, and in 2002 she adopted 7-month-old Maddox from an orphanage in western Cambodia.

Determined to give something back, she launched a foundation in Cambodia 12 years ago to promote community development alongside conservation.

This past weekend she visited some of the projects of the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which focuses on programs "to help local families overcome problems associated with poverty in the region and to help preserve the remarkable habitat and wildlife for future generations," she said.
She's slated to begin filming in November on the Netflix project, an adaptation of "First they Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers," author Loung Ung's memoir of her childhood during the Khmer Rouge regime. Jolie recently directed the Louis Zamperini biopic "Unbroken" and is in post-production on the drama "By the Sea," in which she also acts alongside her husband, Brad Pitt.

During her visit to Cambodia this week, Jolie agreed to answer a few emailed questions from The Associated Press. Here is an edited version of the exchange:

— AP: Do you feel a political/social responsibility to tell the stories of Cambodia, since Maddox is from there?
— Jolie: I feel a deep connection to Cambodia. I want to respect its history and bring a film to the world that will not only show the hardships of war but the dignity and resilience of a people I deeply respect.
As Maddox and I prepare the film we will be side by side learning about his country. He is turning 14 next week and this is a very important time for him to understand who he is. He is my son but he is also a son of Cambodia. This is the time for our family to understand all that that means to him and to us. My desire to tell this story in the most truthful and accurate way possible will be my tribute to the strength and dignity of all Cambodian people.

— AP: There are so many gruesome stories of people who lived through the horror of Khmer Rouge. What about this particular story do you feel needs to be told on the big screen?
— Jolie: The intent of this project is not to revisit the horrors of the war but to bring to the screen characters that people around the world will empathize with, and to help other people to learn about Cambodia.
What is special about this particular story is that it is told from the perspective of a 5-year-old child, and is based on a child's emotional experience of war. It sheds light not only on the experience of children during the genocide in Cambodia but of all children who endure war.

— AP: Will Maddox be involved with the film/production?
— Jolie: Maddox will be on set every day after school and involved behind the scenes. And yes, Maddox is already involved in the Foundation and will take over my role when he is older.
___

Jolie was in the capital Phnom Penh on Tuesday doing research at the Bophana Center, an audiovisual archive co-founded by Rithy Pan, an acclaimed Cambodian documentary filmmaker whose work has focused on the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge, and who will help with the Netflix project, which will be done in the Khmer language.

"We will be spending the next few months scouting for locations, casting the film, but most importantly researching every event to make sure it is historically accurate and will pay respect not only to Loung Ung and her family but to every single individual who suffered under the Khmer Rouge," Jolie said a speech at the center, which distributed the text.

"The book is a guide to one young girl's story, and we will complete the story drawing on the experiences of other and adding them to the film. Through her story we will be telling many stories, so that the film is not just based on the memory of one child but on the collective memory of the people of Cambodia."
___

Associated Press writers Angela Chen in Hong Kong and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.


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