Angelina Jolie said Saturday that she prays her new film about Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge will help educate the world about the cruelty of the 1970 regimes and shed a light on the dilemma of young people in war zones today.
"First, They Killed My Father" is based on author and human rights avant-garde Loung Ung's account of her survival as a child under the 1975-79 Leninist Khmer Rouge regime, believed to be accountable for the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians from hunger, illness, and death penalties.
Speaking at a conference before the film's premiere, the actress-turned-director said she hopes the movie will "remind everyone that there are little Loung's all around the world today" in countless war zones and turnings of the world.
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"Her story is their story and so this is, in many ways, universal, and we hope that this is something that you think about as well," said Jolie, who directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with Loung.
Jolie has had an empathy for Cambodia since she began charity work for the U.N.'s migrant agency in 2001, and her eldest son, Maddox, 15, was adopted from the country. She also has set a foundation to promote social growth in rural Cambodia. Although, the Hollywood superstar pointed out that Cambodia's history is not just about the war.
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"I hope that the young generations, when they see this film, that yes, they will pick up part of their history, but I hope they also see - I hope all of you see - that this is a country that has gift, an art, love, and beauty," Jolie said. Maddox also contributed some of his time to the production of the movie, which was shot on location in Cambodia in late 2015 and early 2016. Jolie said that Maddox is very proud of his Cambodian legacy and that she and her children see Cambodia as their "second home."
"The children are very close to the families who are in the film and, in fact, many of them are best friends," she said. "So, they're simply happy to be back with their friends. Maddox is happy to be back in his birthplace."
The film, a Netflix original production, will be shown on the mainstream later this year. Jolie's prior directorial projects include the 2015 marriage drama "By the Sea," in which she head the cast alongside then-husband Brad Pitt, and the 2014 survival tale "Unbroken."