Angelina Jolie: Cambodia, Politics, and a “Difficult Year”

Angelina Jolie has been a household name for years, but there is little doubt she has been in the news more than usual this year. Between her infamous split with husband Brad Pitt and her new movie, First They Killed My Father, Jolie has been busier than ever.

Jolie has been trying to keep her personal life out of the spotlight as much as possible by focusing on other aspects of her career.

First They Killed My Father is based on a book by author Loung Ung of the same name. Ung, at age five, and her family, were forced from their home in Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. Approximately two million Cambodian people (about a quarter of the country’s population) died under the regime — either brutally murdered by government officials or starved and worked to death.

In an exclusive sit-down with BBC, Jolie speaks out about the film she directed, saying that she hopes it will help the people of Cambodia come to terms with this turbulent part of their history, and help them heal their wounds. Jolie has been invested in Cambodia since 2001, calling her first visit to the country an “awakening,” and helping her realize her limited experiences of the world.

“I came to this country and I fell in love with its people and learned its history, and in doing so learned, how little I actually knew about the world,” she said.

Jolie later adopted her oldest son, Maddox, from the nation of Cambodia. She wanted to bring awareness to the war that took place over 40 years ago, saying she felt it was “not properly understood.”

The film is predominantly in the local Khmer language. Jolie said she hoped this would help the rest of the world better understand the events of the genocide that took place in Cambodia, as well as promoting domestic conversations.

first they killed my father angelina jolie“I hope it helps the country speak more,” she said, as many survivors of the regime “haven’t told their children their story.”

The film, made by Netflix, was premiered in the Cambodian
city of Siem Reap in late February. Accompanied by her six children and Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni, the premier event was one of Jolie’s firsts since announcing her split with actor and husband Brad Pitt last September.

In her interview with BBC, Jolie acknowledged that it has been a difficult time for herself and her family, and that she is coping with her new circumstances and continues to focus on the needs of her children.

Recently, Jolie wrote a piece for the New York Times in response to President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration ban in the United States. While in her writing she does not specifically cite Trump’s policy, she does write:

“The American people are bigger than any president. I suppose I have faith in my country and in what it is founded on and the values we hold dear.”

“I believe that many of the things that we’re hearing that we feel are based on a sense of spreading fear or hate or dividing people by race or judgement is un-American”

“At this time I think what is amazing is we are seeing people around the world start to speak out for their civil liberties and rights and what they feel. In America, we are hearing people say ‘this is un-American to me, this is unconstitutional to me. And this is who I am.’”

First They Killed My Father will be released on Netflix later in 2017.

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