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Angelina Jolie’s Cambodia war film for Netflix to boost Cambodia’s tourism

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

Angelina Brad Maddox Pitt

Netflix already has an exclusive distribution deal for Brad Pitt's next movie "War Machine" which will come out in late 2016. And now his wife Angelina Jolie Pitt will direct a movie for the world‘s leading Internet television network. Angelina’s movie is an adaptation of First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, a harrowing and poignant memoir from Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung about surviving the deadly Khmer Rouge regime.

Angelina Jolie Pitt will direct and produce the Netflix Original Film from a script she co-adapted with Ung. Acclaimed Cambodian director and producer Rithy Panh, director of the Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language film The Missing Picture, will also be a producer. The movie will be also made available to members of Netflix in late 2016 and will be submitted to major international festivals.

Loung Ung was five years old when the Khmer Rouge assumed power over Cambodia in 1975 and began a four-year reign of terror and genocide in which nearly two million Cambodians died. Forced from her family‘s home in Phnom Penh, Ung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while her six siblings were sent to labor camps. Ung survived and wrote First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, which was first published in 2000. Jolie Pitt read the book and contacted Ung over a decade ago and they became close friends. Together they adapted the book into a screenplay.

"I was deeply affected by Loung‘s book," commented Jolie Pitt. "It deepened forever my understanding of how children experience war and are affected by the emotional memory of it. And it helped me draw closer still to the people of Cambodia, my son‘s homeland." She added, "It is a dream come true to be able to adapt this book for the screen, and I‘m honored to work alongside Loung and filmmaker Rithy Panh." Angelina Jolie Pitt‘s Cambodian-born son, Maddox, will also be involved in the production of the film.

Cambodia Choeung Ek skulls

This year Cambodia is marking 40 years since the fall of its capital Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge, beginning a terror that wiped out a quarter of the population. Almost two million people are thought to have died between 1975 and 1979.

Angelina Jolie Pitt’s film is expected to boost tourism in the country as the movie “Killing Fields” lured tourists in Cambodia back in 1984. The "killing fields" of Choeung Ek have become a tourist attraction following the movie and tourism has increased by 40 percent every year. Nearly all tourists that visit Cambodia see Angkor Wat and the killing fields.

The country has many tourist attractions that show the dark years of the country. There were killing fields all over the country, but Cheung Ek was believed to be the largest. It is located 15 km from Central Phnom Penh. Every year on the 20th of May a ceremony is held around the stupa to bring peace to the spirits of the deceased.

It was a place where more than 17,000 civilians were killed and buried in mass graves; many of them transported here after detention and torture in Toul Sleng. This place is a chilling reminder of the brutalities of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. In the center of the area is a 17 story glass stupa which houses 8000 skulls exhumed from mass graves.

Angelina Jolie Pitt’s film is expected to boost tourism and will inspire people to experience the screened places firsthand by visiting Cambodia.

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