First They Killed My Father, the film adaptation of Loung Ung’s well known autobiographical account of her family’s struggle to survive the Khmer Rouge, will be released on Netflix on September 15, seven months after it was screened at locations throughout Cambodia.
Directed by Hollywood A-lister Angelina Jolie and co-produced by Jolie and acclaimed Cambodian director Rithy Panh, the film is a visually striking realisation of Ung’s account, with much of it shot from a ‘child’s eye’ point of view.
“I hope that people will not just look at this film as a history lesson, but they will walk away with a new love and respect for [Cambodia],” Jolie told The Post at First They Killed My Father’s world premiere in Siem Reap in February. Later that night, the film was screened at the Terrace of the Elephants in the Angkor Archaeological Park to a crowd of thousands, including Khmer Rouge survivors, the King and Queen Mother, and cast members.
Shot in Cambodia between November 2015 and February 2016, the movie employed more than 3,500 background actors as well as the main cast, who speak only in Khmer, with occasional French and Vietnamese.
Ung, who was 5 when the Khmer Rouge began their forced evacuation of Phnom Penh, told The Post in February: “I think people will see that it takes more than anger, [and] it takes more than strength to survive. It takes love, it takes soul, and we Cambodians have that in spades.”
See the reactions of Khmer Rouge survivors after watching the film: