Angelina Jolie Pitt will direct an adaptation of First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, a harrowing and poignant memoir from Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung about surviving the deadly Khmer Rouge regime.
Jolie Pitt will direct and produce the Netflix Original Film from a script she co-adapted with Ung. Acclaimed Cambodian director and producer Rithy Panh, director of the Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language film The Missing Picture, will also be a producer.
The film will be made available to members of the world’s leading Internet TV network in late 2016 and will be submitted to major international festivals.
Loung Ung was five years old when the Khmer Rouge assumed power over Cambodia in 1975 and began a four-year reign of terror and genocide in which nearly two million Cambodians died. Forced from her family’s home in Phnom Penh, Ung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while her six siblings were sent to labor camps. Ung survived and wrote First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, which was first published in 2000. Jolie Pitt read the book and contacted Ung over a decade ago and they became close friends. Together they adapted the book into a screenplay.
“I was deeply affected by Loung’s book,” commented Jolie Pitt. “It deepened forever my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it. And it helped me draw closer still to the people of Cambodia, my son’s homeland.” She added, “It is a dream come true to be able to adapt this book for the screen, and I’m honored to work alongside Loung and filmmaker Rithy Panh.” Jolie Pitt’s Cambodian-born son, Maddox, will also be involved in the production of the film.
Netflix’s global reach was a major factor in Jolie Pitt’s desire to partner with the streaming service. “Films like this are hard to watch but important to see,” said Jolie Pitt. “They are also hard to get made. Netflix is making this possible, and I am looking forward to working with them and excited that the film will reach so many people.” The film will be released in both Khmer and English.
“Angelina and I met in 2001 in Cambodia, and immediately, I trusted Angelina’s heart,” commented author Loung Ung. “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.
It is with great honor that I entrust my family’s story to Angelina to adapt into a film.”