The family may have stayed at Amansara, a much smaller and more private hotel where they've stayed in the past. It is part of the Aman chain they've long favored. Brad stayed at an Aman in Turks & Caicos over Thanksgiving. The press conference was held at Raffles.
Take a close look @PhumBaitang is the resort where @BBCWorld exclusive interview with #AngelinaJolie and cooks the bugs. #FTKMF https://t.co/fkqaxANBWJ— Dara Sum⭐️ (@Darachansum) February 23, 2017
មតិតារាខ្មែរ ក្រោយទស្សនាភាពយន្ត ជោលី #Cambodia https://t.co/TmAl3ASDcU pic.twitter.com/y4PqCcbaUk— Post Khmer (@postkhmer) February 23, 2017
Exclusive: #FTKMF author Loung Ung on trusting #AngelinaJolie to tell part of #Cambodia's story https://t.co/WPwxd8zPWM pic.twitter.com/aUtASh6bOJ— The Phnom Penh Post (@phnompenhpost) February 23, 2017
Phloeun Prim is the executive director of Cambodia Living ArtsI worked to ban landmines with Loung Ung 20 years ago. Now her #Cambodia genocide story is a film by Angelina Jolie! https://t.co/ymT4c6QB5x— Mary Wareham (@marywareham) February 22, 2017
On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of “First They Killed My Father” and I had the privilege of bringing my family with me. By my side was my wife Sophea born exactly nine months after the fall of Phnom Penh my children and my mom.
My two daughters, Sayana, 13, and Clara, 6, and my son Eden, 11, were all born in Cambodia and have lived here all their lives. My mother was born in Siem Reap. She lived in Cambodia through the whole period of the war, survived and immigrated to Canada with me and my dad.
I invited my dad to the premiere, but he didn’t want to join us. He said he did not need to see the film.
For him, no image could represent what he saw with his own eyes as he lived through that time. So he stayed at home while the rest of us arrived at the temple complex, where we were met by the excitement of a world premiere—a red carpet, a king and a Hollywood star.
Together we sat, three generations from 6 to 66 years old, and watched the film. We were sitting between students and villagers. Throughout the screening, we heard joy, surprise, tears and laughter.
Together we saw the story unfold, accompanied by the public reactions of the audience. On screen we saw beautiful scenes of rice fields that invoke nostalgia in every Cambodian.
As I sat in the outdoor temple setting, I could feel the uniquely Cambodia weather; blanketed by humidity, with a fresh cool breeze on my skin, I experienced sensations of my childhood that I had long forgotten.
Then, in the car on the way home, something unexpected happened. It began with a question from my son, asking me how long I lived through the Khmer Rouge.
My mom, who is a typical Cambodian housewife who never speaks about that time, answered first. She told him, “Your grandma and grandpa lived through the four years of the Khmer Rouge. Your dad was born during the Khmer Rouge and lived through it for three years. Your grandpa was also a soldier of Lon Nol and had to escape from the Khmer Rouge by walking to the border of Thailand.”
My daughter asked how long it took us to walk. Again my mom answered, “It took us three days and three nights walking through the jungle. Your grandpa tied your dad to his chest using a krama. Your dad was so skinny. For one whole day and one whole night we did not have water and food, but your dad did not cry.” “I remember the Khmer Rouge was running after us,” she continued.
“I heard gunshots and bombs exploding. I was exhausted and did not have the strength to keep going. At that point, I told your grandpa to keep running. I told him to take your dad, and leave me here; I was too tired to run. Then, keeping your dad in one hand, he grabbed me with his other hand. He kept pulling me and finally we all escaped safely.” That 30-minute car journey was the first time I have ever heard the story of how my family escaped the Khmer Rouge.
I probably should have asked long ago but, maybe like many of my fellow Cambodians, I never dared. The next morning, I woke at 5 in the morning to write a letter. I was writing to the film’s creators: Loung Ung, who wrote the book of her own life story that it is based on; Angelina Jolie; and my dear friend Rithy Panh, the film’s co-producer.
I needed to thank them. The story they shared on screen brought out an untold story in my family. That story and its telling is a gift I will treasure for the rest of my life. It’s the kind of gift that only artists have the power to give.