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Jolie Pitt to film KR memoir in Cambodia

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Angelina Jolie Pitt with husband Brad Pitt and son Maddox at the 2013 Academy Awards in Los Angeles. AFP

Jolie Pitt to film KR memoir in Cambodia

US actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie Pitt is set to produce and direct an adaptation of Loung Ung’s Khmer Rouge memoir First They Killed My Father for Netflix.

The film will be shot in Cambodia and co-produced by Oscar-nominated Cambodian director Rithy Panh (The Missing Picture, The Sea Wall) and become available to Netflix subscribers in late 2016. 

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Maddox Jolie-Pitt. Afp

It will be released in both English and Khmer. 

Jolie Pitt, whose Cambodia-born adopted son Maddox will also be involved in the production, has co-written the script with Ung.

First They Killed My Father details the Khmer Rouge’s violent takeover of Cambodia and Ung’s years under the communist regime.

In a press release made available on Thursday by Netflix, a US provider of on-demand internet streaming media, Jolie Pitt said she was “deeply affected by Loung’s book”, which was published in 2000.

“It deepened forever my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it,” she said

“And it helped me draw closer still to the people of Cambodia, my son’s homeland. It is a dream to be able to adapt this book for the screen, and I’m honored to work alongside Loung and filmmaker Rithy Panh.”

Jolie Pitt said such films were “hard to watch but important to see”.

“They are also hard to get made,” she said.

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Rithy Panh. Afp

“Netflix is making this possible, and I am looking forward to working with them and excited that the film will reach so many people.” 

Ung, who has written three books and is working on her first novel, said in the press release that she first met Jolie Pitt in 2001 in Cambodia and immediately “trusted Angelina’s heart”.

“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,” she said. 

The upcoming Netflix feature will not be Jolie Pitt’s first time in the Kingdom.

In 2001, she starred in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, an action-adventure film famously shot at the Ta Prohm temple in Angkor.

In 2003, she founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, a Cambodia-based NGO that focuses on environmental conservation and rural poverty, mostly in the northwest of the Kingdom.

The Battambang-based group has several ongoing projects, addressing issues ranging from female empowerment to elephant protection.

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The book First They Killed My Father. Kimberley McCosker

Recently, the group uncovered an illegal logging project near the O’Tavao Waterfall in Pailin province, as reported by the Post earlier this month. 

Jolie Pitt has directed two films, including In the Land of Blood and Honey and, most recently, the Oscar-nominated World War II drama Unbroken

She is currently finishing up the production of By the Sea, a marital drama co-starring Jolie Pitt and her husband, Brad Pitt. Universal plans to release that film in November.

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