Angelina Jolie and Rithy Panh's highly acclaimed First They Killed My Father came away from the 75th Golden Globe Awards without a win in the best foreign language film category.
The prestigious award went instead to Germany’s entry, In the Fade, directed by Fatih Akin, which beat out Ruben Östlund’s The Square (Sweden), Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless (Russia) and Sebastian Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman (Chile) as well as First They Killed My Father.
Based on the autobiographical novel by Loung Ung about surviving life under the Khmer Rouge as a child, First They Killed My Father was shot entirely in Cambodia with a local cast. Director Jolie reportedly went to great lengths to ensure the film could compete in foreign language film categories on the awards circuit.
Although it was nominated for the Golden Globes, for which winners are selected by a body of international entertainment journalists, it did not make the December shortlist of nominees for the Academy Awards.
The film premiered in Siem Reap in February last year, prior to a worldwide release in cinemas and on Netflix in September. Critical reception has been generally positive, with the film earning a 7.2/10 score on the Internet Movie Database and an 89 percent score on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com said the film was “far and away [Jolie’s] best work as a director,” and praised it for its neutral voice and immersive viewing experience.
“It's a film that recreates a bleak time and place with a journalistic eye for detail, catching fleeting, at times surreal instances of humanity amid horror,” he wrote in his review.
Youk Chhang, the executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said via email that the film’s value was beyond that of “any gold on earth we could imagine” and praised Jolie and Ung for finding “the strength [to] put [the story] on the big screen for us all to understand”.
The film’s creators did not respond to immediate requests for comment.
The film was also nominated for best foreign language film for the upcoming Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. It has previously received the "Freedom of Expression Award" from the National Board of Review, best foreign film at the Hollywood Film Awards, as well as accolades from the Camerimage International Film Festival for its cinematography.