'Maddox Is Happy to Be Back in His Home Country': Angelina Jolie Steps Out in Cambodia Ahead of Premiere
Angelina Jolie stepped out for the world premiere of her new film First They Killed My Father in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Feb. 18
Angelina Jolie is back in the spotlight.
The actress stepped out for a press conference ahead of the Cambodia premiere of her new film First They Killed My Father on Saturday in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The film will be presented in the ancient Angkor Wat temple complex. Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni, Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk and senior government officials are expected to attend.
This marks the 41-year-old Oscar winner’s first public appearance since she filed for divorce from Brad Pitt in September 2016. She visited a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan on Sept. 9, where she urged United Nations leaders to find an end to the Syrian conflict.
During the press conference for the film, Jolie said she thinks of Cambodia “like a second home,” adding, “Maddox is happy to be back in his country.”
First They Killed My Father is based on the autobiography of the same name by Cambodian human-rights activist Loung Ung, a friend of Jolie’s. The memoir tells the true story of the devastation inflicted on Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge communist party in the 1970s.
“I read Loung’s book many years ago,” Jolie said. “It helped to open my eyes to what was going on the world.”
She added, “I wanted to tell the story to through the eyes of the child’s point of view, the love of a family, to show the beauty of the country and understand what Maddox’s parents may have gone through.”
More than two million people, out of a total population of seven million, were killed during the purge, including Ung’s father, mother and two sisters. “The heart of it is Loung’s story, it’s the story of a war through the eyes of a child, but it is also the story of a country,” Jolie said in a promotional clip for the film.
In order to create an accurate portrait of the war, Jolie insisted on using only Cambodian actors, and the language spoken throughout is their native Khmer. The actors themselves are the survivors and children of the survivors of the genocide. Jolie, Ung and the producers hoped the experience of making the film would be cathartic for those who participated.
Jolie fell in love with Cambodia after filming Tomb Raider in 2000. Not long after she was finished with production, she returned to the country as a volunteer for the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, for which she is now a special envoy. In 2002, Jolie adopted her first child, Maddox, from a Battambang orphanage.
And it was Maddox who, after years of putting it off, convinced Jolie and Ung to make the film. “He was the one who just called it and said he was ready and that he wanted to work on it, which he did. He read the script, helped with notes, and was in the production meetings,” Jolie recently told The Guardian.
Jolie’s second-oldest son, Pax, was also involved in the production. In 2015, Jolie told PEOPLE, “Pax is doing a lot of the stills,” adding, “The whole movie is from a child’s point of view.”
During the presser, Jolie made it a point to emphasize that the public does not hear the stories of all of the girls and boys who are going through the same thing today as Loung Ung did in the 1970s, noting, “Her story is universal.”
“I’m deeply honored to have had the chance to work on the film,” Jolie said. “I hope it reminds everyone that there are little Loungs all around the world today.”
First They Killed My Father will be released globally via Netflix later this year.