Shiloh Speaks Khmer! Inside the Jolie-Pitt Family Connection to Cambodia, Maddox's Home Country
Angelina Jolie holds a special place in her heart for Cambodia — and now her kids do too.
The actress’s history with the country began in 2000 when she filmed the hit Tomb Raider on location and later returned two years later to adopt her first child, Maddox. 17 years later, Jolie, 41, has introduced the rest of her brood to the South Asian country nestled between Vietnam and Thailand through her passion project First They Killed My Father.
“We’ve been coming back and forth for 17 years, it feels like a second home to me,” Jolie told reporters at a press conference the day before the film’s Cambodia premiere where she stepped out with the whole family. “The children have close ties to the children here, many of them are their best friends. Maddox is happy to be back in his country.”
The movie, directed by Jolie, was shot on location with Maddox, 15, and Pax, 13, working on the production and their siblings — Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 8 — joining the family during filming.
It was an especially personal shoot for Maddox as he helped research the devastation inflicted on Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge communist party in the 1970s that killed nearly 2 million people in a population of 7 million. “He was the one who just called it and said he was ready and that he wanted to work on it, which he did,” Jolie recently told The Guardian of Maddox’s role in the film. “He read the script, helped with notes, and was in the production meetings.”
The actress had personal reasons to adapt Loung Ung’s memoir detailing her experience as a child during the Khmer Rouge genocide. “We all knew on set that this wasn’t just a movie Angelina was making, but this is also in some respect her story—her son’s story,” the author told PEOPLE after the premiere. Jolie echoed Ung the day before, telling reporters that she hoped the film would help her “understand what Maddox’s parents may have gone through,” calling making the film a “labor of love.”
And Jolie’s second oldest child Pax also showed off his burgeoning artistic talent while mom was shooting the film. “Pax is doing a lot of the stills. The whole movie is from a child’s point of view,” Jolie told PEOPLE in 2015. (See the photos Pax shot above.)
But it was Maddox himself and his little sister Shiloh who stole the show at the film’s premiere. Speaking after their mother, Maddox took center stage and said a few words about the film. “Thank you everyone for attending tonight. We finally made it. It’s a great honor to present this film to all of you, and to stand by my mother and my family. And now I’d like to introduce my little sister Shiloh, as she has something to say.”
Shiloh then stepped up to the microphone and told the crowd in the Cambodian language of Khmer: “My name is Shiloh and I love Cambodia.”
First They Killed My Father will premiere on Netflix later this year.