A new interview by Variety from the 3rd of September with Loung Ung and Angelina. It’s so interesting to read about the process and the idea behind the film and that it gets the attention it deserves! Can’t wait to see it!
Angelina Jolie made her first trip to the Telluride Film Festival this year with her fourth directorial effort, “First They Killed My Father.” Based on the memoir by Loung Ung, it tells the harrowing story of Ung and her family, who fled their home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge regime took over and moved from village to village, hiding their identity and former life of privilege. Ung would eventually even train as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans to survive.
The film is Jolie’s finest hour behind the camera, told with vibrant visuals from Ung’s unique, and evolving, point of view. Jolie and Ung sat down with Variety at the fest festival to discuss the film.
Variety: Luong, I suppose the obvious question is what was your reaction to seeing your life unfold on the screen the first time you saw the film?
Loung Ung: Happiness and gratefulness. I think I’m just really grateful that it got done and it was made by a friend who I trust. I’m really happy with it. Of course, I was heartbroken to see some of the scenes in the movie, not particularly the big explosive scenes but the scenes of the family sitting together at dinner, that broke me to pieces.
Is it fair to say that feeling of happiness to share your story with the world supersedes the sad reminders that confront you in the film?
Ung: Yes. The story has never been silent to me. It may have been silent to many other people in the world but never to me. It exists in my head and heart and dreams and in my stomach and shoulders at times. So that’s something I’ve learned to deal with over the years and learned to heal. But the happiness definitely supersedes that. I’m so happy that this movie that honors families and traditions will go out and change hearts and minds. Personally, for me, as an activist, I’m happy for that, but as a daughter, I’m so happy that generations of Ungs who will come after me will know something about their history and know that we made this with love.
Angelina, on a nuts-and-bolts level, the visual language of the film is truly dynamic. You and your cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle have found a way to use objective photography to approach a subjective sense and it’s really remarkable. Talk a little about that.
Jolie: Because the book was written through her point of view, that was the challenge. But you realize early on how much that could be a gimmick. What is that? What is a child’s point of view? Technically how to do it is one thing, but the other thing was more about the emotional point of view. Because you can get on your knees and imagine what she sees, and whenever you’re blocking a scene, you have to figure out where is she. But it’s also how she looks at things and what she looks at and what she looks away from when she’s five, and how that changes when she’s nine…
You can read the full interview in our press archive!