You didn’t expect the trailer for a film directed by Angelina Jolie and titled First They Killed My Father to be lighthearted, did you? Taking place in 1975 Cambodia, it follows a young Loung Ung (the project is based on the memoir that the activist wrote), played by Srey Moch Sareum, during the genocide at the hands of Khmer Rouge regime, which murdered one-quarter of the country's population. The movie is told through her eyes and follows her family’s struggle to stay together.
“This film is important to the people of Cambodia because it is the first time that one of the most crucial periods of our history has been told on such a major scale and shot in our country and in our Khmer language,” Rithy Panh, who helped produce the film with Jolie, told Deadline in a statement. “A film is a viewpoint, a personal narrative; it does not answer all the questions, but it contributes to a dialogue and to the passing on of knowledge from one generation to the next.”
First They Killed My Father has been in the news way before today’s trailer release. First, while promoting the film back in February, a BBC reporter inappropriately steered the conversation away from the important project to Jolie's separation from Brad Pitt. And then, just last week, the star came under fire for what was, according to her, an inaccurate retelling of a disturbing casting process for the Cambodia film. “I am upset that a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario,” she said in a statement. “The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened. The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.”
Let’s all try to remember that come September 15, when the film is released in theaters and on Netflix.