Angelina Jolie has announced her fifth narrative feature since 2011’s “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”
The actress-turned-filmmaker will direct a Netflix drama based on Cambodian human rights activist Loung Ung’s memoir, “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” about surviving the Khmer Rouge, which killed 2 million people.
Jolie will pen the script with Ung. In the 2000 book, the activist recalls being “trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, [while] her siblings were sent to labor camps,” according to the publisher’s summary.
“First They Killed My Father” will be available in late 2016 in English and in Khmer and will be submitted to major festivals.
“I was deeply affected by Loung’s book,” Jolie commented. “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. 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.”
“Films like this are hard to watch but important to see,” she continued. “They are also hard to get made. Netflix is making this possible, and I am looking forward to working with them and excited that the film will reach so many people.”
“We are proud to be working with Angelina Jolie in bringing this emotionally powerful and ultimately uplifting story exclusively to Netflix members around the world,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “Loung Ung’s incredible journey is a testament to the human spirit and its ability to transcend even the toughest circumstances.”
“Angelina and I met in 2001 in Cambodia, and immediately, I trusted Angelina’s heart,” Ung added. “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.”
Jolie is currently in post-production on “By the Sea,” her directorial follow-up to the WWII hit “Unbroken.”
Here’s the synopsis for Ung’s book:
One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung’s family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed.
Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung’s powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.