Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Frame's John Horn with Angelina Jolie and Rithy Panh.

Jolie says that filming in Cambodia with a local cast and crew was non-negotiable, but that meant being conscious of the subject matter's emotional weight

Many people had not yet discussed, and would be discussing for the first time and reliving. And having someone in a Khmer Rouge uniform yell at them again - what would that do? So we talked a lot. Rithy would talk a lot - go to the villages, talk to the village chiefs, walk everybody through. Everybody had a choice of whether they wanted to do this or not, and how they would do it and be prepared. We also had therapists on set and we also had spirit houses. It was very important to pray...
"First They Killed My Father," which is both in theaters and available to stream on Netflix, was just named Cambodia's foreign-language submission to the Academy Awards. The Frame's John Horn met with Jolie and Panh to discuss the making of the film, and the importance of it being a truly Cambodian production.

Interview Highlights

How Jolie discovered Loung Ung's story while on location in Cambodia:
Jolie: It was my first trip there. ["Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" was] the first big Western film to come in after the war and I read about the country. I realized how little I was taught in school, how little I had been educated. I felt very ignorant. I wanted to learn more. I expected to find a very bitter, dark people and country. I found a resilient, very positive, strong people. And I really wanted to understand. So, I went for a walk and I ended up on a corner and going through books, and thinking "I need to educate myself." The description of the story "Through a Child's Eyes" got my attention, so I bought a little two dollar copy on the corner and sat by myself and read the book.

On making art after the Khmer Rouge regime:
Panh: It's difficult at the beginning because most of our artists are dead. So we have nothing. After the Khmer Rouge, we had five masters of dance survive, one or two film directors - you come back and everyone's disappeared. So we need to rebuild it because genocide is not only killing people, but also destroying our identity, your freedom of thinking, your capacity of imagination. You keep the trauma with you, and it's very difficult to come out of genocide talking about genocide.

On the importance of working with Cambodian artists:
Jolie: I would never have made the film if it wasn't in Cambodia, if Rithy hadn't agreed to do it, if it wasn't with Cambodian actors, if it wasn't in [Khmer] - that was the whole reason to make this film. To give this country a chance to speak. And if they weren't ready, then we wouldn't have made the film.

Panh on working with Jolie as a director:
Panh: It's very important to be with the people [to make this kind of film]. If they go to the rice field, you must go to the rice field. There's no reason for you to stay in a safe place and put people in the rice field. It changes the communication with people, the relationship. I was very touched when I saw Angie go in the line for lunch. I produced many films before, and directors want their private temple, their private place. But Angie just goes with us.

Why Jolie's sons worked on the film:
Jolie: It was very much about family and I think for all of us, we had our family or close friends there. And Maddox is Cambodian. For all my children, this is their family member, [who] is Cambodian. So it was important for all of my children to be on set, to be a part of the project. Yes, I like it when my children have a good work ethic and I like to see them work, but really in truth, I wanted Mad to take this time and understand his country and understand his countrymen, and learn about his history and dedicate himself to really understanding it. And I also wanted him to work alongside his countrymen. We've been working there for 14 years. We have a home there, Mad goes there often. But this was going to be months and very immersed in being side by side, and I think it brought out a deeper understanding and pride that is beautiful to see.

[Editors Note: This article is presented in partnership with Netflix’s original film “First They Killed My Father” – now streaming on Netflix and in select theaters.]
First They Killed My Father” producer Rithy Panh is arguably the most influential Cambodian director in history. A survivor of the Khmer Rouge who escaped to Thailand in 1979, Panh found his footing as a filmmaker while living in Paris before returning to his native country 10 years later. Over the past 27 years, his work has largely taken a biographical focus, as he confronts the trauma of his family’s struggles from a number of cinematic perspectives. Viewed in full, his filmography tells the modern story of the Cambodian people, from their struggles to survive against an oppressive regime to the reverberations of those experiences in modern times. 

Panh has always taken a personal approach to his filmmaking. His first widely acclaimed project, 1994’s “Rice of People,” blends professional and amateur performers in the spare tale of an impoverished family attempting to make ends meet in a world still reeling from the horrors of the past. The film’s naturalistic style echoes the traditions of Italian Neorealism, and just as that era reflected recent wartime events, Panh’s film shows a keen ability to thread Cambodian history into an intimate story. Soon he could become the great chronicler of his country’s history.

With 2000’s “The Land of the Wandering Souls,” Panh explored the plight of Cambodian workers whose ditch-digging leads them to encounter bodies and land mines that speak to the continuing reminders of their genocidal past. In “S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine,” Panh explored the history of the Khmer Rouge’s most notorious prison with a blend of memories from former prisoners and some of the men who tortured them. In “Such, Master of the Forges of Hell,” he profiled a Khmer Rouge war criminal.

It was only a matter of time before Panh would turn the camera on his own journey. The Oscar-nominated 2013 documentary “The Missing Picture” is one of Panh’s most ambitious achievements, a semi-animated essay film about the plight of his family as they sought to escape the Khmer Rouge (and was not entirely successful in doing so). The film, which premiered to great acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, uses stop-motion clay figures to represent Panh’s memories of his family’s struggles, echoing the degree to which he has internalized these memories from a child’s perspective. The filmmaker combines these elements with archival footage from the Pol Pot years, creating a fascinating blend of dreamlike rumination and historical specificity. 

“The Missing Picture” also provides a key foundation for watching “First They Killed My Father.” Panh’s memories are tied to his youth, and his deeper understanding of the massacre only came later; as a result, the film is an essential precedent for “First They Killed My Father” in that it explores the paradox of experiencing an adventurous survival epic even though the reality of the events was much bleaker. The title refers to a photograph taken by the Khmer Rouge that would bring a historical finality to many of the stories of the regime’s atrocities. Because Panh can’t find the picture, he makes a movie to fill in the gaps. “First They Killed My Father” is an extension of that goal, resurrecting the painful history of a generation and giving voice to the valiant efforts of those who survived dire circumstances to keep their country intact. 

Both “The Missing Picture” and “First They Killed My Father” take place between 1975 and 1979. Both are crucial to the contemporary development of Cambodian cinema. Panh’s film brought an international audience to his story and made it more accessible than ever before. Jolie’s work goes one step further. Not since “The Killing Fields” has a major filmmaker tackled these events, and that movie — while Oscar-nominated and still widely acclaimed — had no organic connection to the country it portrayed. “First They Killed My Father,” on the other hand, was filmed in the country with a predominantly Cambodian cast and crew (including director Angelina Jolie, who adopted a child from the country, was offered citizenship by the government and accepted). It provides a fully immersive look at the slow development of the Khmer Rouge takeover without stepping back to overexploit the events. 
There’s a fundamental authenticity to the way the movie takes its cues from the child’s viewpoint, as if no amount of complex historical explanation can convey the same degree of understanding provided by simply witnessing the atrocities. “First They Killed My Father” is an extension of Panh’s 30-year-effort to ensure that Cambodia’s national identity remains appropriately preserved for audiences around the world.

Thanks Pride&Joy

A post shared by Angelina Jolie / Angie ❤️ (@angelinaj1975) on


    Review 5/5 Stars
    There is so much to learn from “First They Killed My Father” historically, politically and most of all about humanity,compassion and strength. A script that could bring all that to the forefront and educate the world on what true horror looks like is a rare gem that we should cherish. Loung Ung’s novel of personal strife and courage if left in the wrong hands would have lost its power, but masterfully her and Angelina Jolie, who also helped adapt the script, put together a film of poignant memories and spectacular courage. Jolie’s takes the word off the page and onto the screen with such a grace and dedication that it is clear that she holds the subject and the people dear to her heart. In “First They Killed My Father” Jolie uses the juxtaposition of the rich vibrant colors and beautiful landscapes of Cambodia to contrast the horrors perpetrated against the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge to show the strength and determination of the subjugated masses. Truthfully as beautifully shot as this film is the shining star has to be the actors. With very little dialogue, the actors (most of them relative new comers) had to convey every terrifying, heart wrenching moment of a time where hope was fleeting and torment was an everyday occurrence. The level of talent in this film was outstanding and the brightest light radiated from the young actress who the movie focused on, Sareum Srey Moch. To have to carry such a heavy movie at such a young age and do it with so much conviction this young actress has a very bright future in film if she wants. There is not one thing about “First They Killed My Father” that does not show an attention to detail and compassion for a story that so desperately needed to be shared with the world, it is simply a masterpiece.“First They Killed My Father” is streaming on Netflix and I highly suggest it to anyone that loves a well crafted story, a finely made film, or a poignant look into the horrors of humanity and the strength of the human spirit. Though the movie does have a long run time the movie draws you into it and doesn’t let go of your heart until the very end (just make sure you have that box of tissues you’re gonna need them). I cried and even smiled a few times, “First They Killed My Father” is one of the best movies I have seen in quite a while and if this film doesn’t get some nods during the awards season I will be seriously shocked. I can not stress enough how amazing a film this is and how much I think everyone should see it. So check it out and let “First They Killed My Father” guide your emotions through the tangled paths of a horrific history and the beautiful triumph of the soul.

  2. Melissa Taitano‏ @MelissaTaitano 4m4 minutes ago
    Just beautiful. Can't wait to see the next one. #FirstTheyKilledMyFather #AngelinaJolie #MaddoxJolie

    R-Squared‏ @Rickyrath12 Sep 17
    Thank you Angelina for bringing light to a part of Khmer history that is dismissed by our U.S history curriculum. #FirstTheyKilledMyFather

    Meg Rawle‏ @megrawle 2h2 hours ago
    #FirstTheyKilledMyFather confronting & amazing story visually stunning the cast especially the kids are fantastic a must see #quickreview

    Meg Rawle‏ @megrawle 2h2 hours ago
    And once again thanks to @netflix I have a fantastic movie option for tonight #FirstTheyKilledMyFather with my review to follow

    Slappy White‏ @BSimmzy 2h2 hours ago
    On @netflix, #AngelinaJolie's heartbreaking film, #FirstTheyKilledMyFather, is streaming, and… https://www.instagram.com/p/BZQjCyLlNcJ/

    lee //‏ @ElleDxoxo 6h6 hours ago
    Don't mind my vent session. #NeverForget #FirstTheyKilledMyFather #WorldPeace #TIFF

    seth‏ @RupacShakur 9h9 hours ago
    Fwiw, I was pleasantly surprised at how #FirstTheyKilledMyFather was able to spin a horrific storyline into a captivating movie.

    Amy Chea‏ @hollaAtCHEAgirl 9h9 hours ago
    Thankyou #AngelinaJolie for shining a light on the tragedy that my family survived&for doing the story such justice #FirstTheyKilledMyFather

  3. ryan pfluger 18 hours ago

    I took a moment to watch First They Killed My Father this weekend and it's by far Angelina Jolie's best work as a director. In her interview for the NYT for which I photographed her for, she said something that will stick with me for a long time "I never expect to be the one that everybody understands or likes, and that's ok because I know who I am". #angelinajolie


  4. Musique de films - First They Killed My Father : Marco Beltrami Scores Angelina Jolie’s Netflix Film
    Academy Award® nominated composer Marco Beltrami scores First They Killed My Father directed and co-written by Angelina Jolie. Currently on Netflix, the film is an adaptation of the best-selling memoir by Cambodian activist and author Loung Ung. The film captures life under the genocidal Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1978 through the eyes of Ms. Ung, who, after being separated from her middle-class family at age 5, was forced to work for the militant group and fight for survival. Angelina Jolie shared how her first visit to Cambodia inspired her to see life, and her career, in a different light. “Once you get exposed to what’s really happening in the world, and other people’s realities, you just can’t ever not know,” she said. “You can’t ever wake up and pretend it’s not happening.” Beltrami created a haunting score which reflected the devastating life of young Ung. In addition, Jolie partnered with the country’s most prolific director Rithy Panh who serves as a producer on the movie, whom she we wouldn’t do the film without. Beltrami’s next film, The Snowman, opens in theaters on October 20, 2017. The film is based on the global bestselling detective series by Jo NesbΓΈ and stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, and J.K. Simmons. Beltrami’s suspenseful score captures the unrelenting intensity of the Nordic noir film and its horror elements. The award-winning composer has built a reputation as a genre innovator beginning with his non-traditional horror scores for the Scream franchise and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. His musical palette has expanded to virtually all film genres. Beltrami’s talents have garnered critical-acclaim and accolades, resulting in two Oscar nominations for Best Original Score (3:10 to Yuma and The Hurt Locker). 3:10 to Yuma marked Beltrami’s first collaboration with director James Mangold. They have since partnered on several projects including The Wolverine and Logan.

  5. Panh Rithy‏ @RPanh 15m15 minutes ago

    First They Killed My Father Now on Netflix #FTKMF

  6. J.R. Niles‏ @JRNiles 2m2 minutes ago
    Oscar prediction; Angie's film First They Killed My Father will get her a best director nomination. Masterful visionary piece of filmmaking

    Charlie Hogg‏ @cheekycharlieh 23m23 minutes ago
    First they killed my father..truly fantastic yet utterly heartbreaking book!Real eye opener for my trip. #FirstTheyKilledMyFather #Cambodia

    s e l e n a‏ @selenakhiev 45m45 minutes ago
    wait i had no clue that first they killed my father is in Khmer wtf that's hella cool. was expecting it to be all americanized and shit

    Deanna Miron ❤‏ @GoDeeGo143 50m50 minutes ago
    Excellent shot. πŸ‘❤☝❤πŸ™❤ just watched "First They Killed My Father" last night for the 3rd time. I've seen Angie & Loung's bond, it's so warm❤

    Sheaaa @HSheaa 53m53 minutes ago
    First They Killed My Father, such a heartwarming movie πŸŽ₯ produced from #AngelinaJolie Watching it all through a child’s eyes is tough.

    Dillon Daniel‏ @DillonMDaniel 1h1 hour ago
    First They Killed My Father, is an amazing film. Captures history and your soul from beginning to end. A must watch. @netflix

    Adam Zainal Abidin @Adamantiumm 1h1 hour ago
    First They Killed My Father #NowWatching THE CINEMATOGRAPHY IS AMAZING

    FeeBeeGB @FeeBeeGB 2h2 hours ago
    If you have a chance please watch First They Killed My Father on Netflix directed by Angelina Jolie , My parents really lived through that.

    Ron van Zeeland @ronvanzeeland 2h2 hours ago
    First they killed my father . If you want to understand something from Cambodia. Now @ Netflix πŸ˜₯

    Paula‏ @MsTwistedNerve 2h2 hours ago
    First They Killed My Father Film Review

    -‏ @ abangnoorazrul 3h3 hours ago
    "First they killed my father". This movie directed by Angelina Jolie is a pure class. Love the cinematography.

  7. IG _GoDannie @ _ GoDannie 34 m 34 minutes ago
    #FirstTheyKilledMyFather...I literally cried the whole movie 😒I can only imagine how Cambodians felt during the reign of the Khmer Rouge

    Charlie Hogg‏ @cheekycharlieh 37m37 minutes ago
    First they killed my father..truly fantastic yet utterly heartbreaking book!Real eye opener for my trip. #FirstTheyKilledMyFather #Cambodia

    Chana‏ @Chanaloulou 1h1 hour ago
    #FirstTheyKilledMyFather @netflix and everyone involved thank you for making this movie.. if only I could stop crying to pay attn #Cambodia

    JimGribble @JimGribble1 2h2 hours ago
    #FirstTheyKilledMyFather: Finally a #war #movie through the eyes of a #child. #powerful stuff. #kittens #puppies #children #cambodia #πŸ‘πŸ‘

    Stephanie White @Stephanie_Alba 2h2 hours ago
    #FirstTheyKilledMyFather was absolutely heartbreaking. Amazing story telling by Angelina Jolie.

    MR‏ @MollieRodriguez 17h17 hours ago
    Respect Loung Ung, Angelina Jolie, #Cambodia and thank you @netflix. #DontMiss #FirstTheyKilledMyFather #MustSee #FTKMF

    Chandara Sum ⭐️‏ @Darachansum 5h5 hours ago
    On behalf of Cambodian people, I feel so honored to hear this news Oscar selection. I'm grateful to Angie, Loung Ung, @RPanh & cast. You're amazing #FTKMF πŸŽ‰

  8. Eric‏ @ thaicam 11h11 hours ago11 hours ago 11h11 hours ago
    Not enough superlatives to laud Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father”. Same class as “Killing Fields”. Brilliant in every way.


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