Cambodia to enter Angelina Jolie’s ‘First They Killed My Father’ into Oscars

By: Euan Black - Posted on: September 18, 2017 | Cambodia

With critics hailing Jolie’s latest work as her best directorial effort to date, the country’s oscar selection committee has confirmed the film will be Cambodia’s entry to the prestigious awards

Cambodian producer Rithy Panh (L) and US director Angelina Jolie arrive for the screening of the movie ‘First They Killed My Father’ during the 42nd annual Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, 11 September 2017. Photo: EPA-EFE/Warren Toda

Angelina Jolie’s film First They Killed My Father has been announced as Cambodia’s entry into the Academy Awards’ best foreign language film category.

The Khmer-language film, which is based on the harrowing Khmer Rouge memoir by Loung Ung, has received largely favourable reviews since its release on the global streaming service Netflix on 15 September. The online review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes currently scores the film at 88%.

Jolie, who has held dual US-Cambodian citizenship since 2005, co-produced the film with the French-schooled Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh, whose production company reportedly hired more than 500 Cambodians to work on the film, which was shot between 2015 and 2016.

The relatively quiet town of Battambang in western Cambodia was often used as a filming location to film for scenes set in Phnom Penh, while others were shot in the rice fields and agrarian villages surrounding Siem Reap, home to the Angkor Archeological Park.

The high proportion of Cambodians on the film crew means that it can be submitted into the Oscar’s foreign language category, despite being directed by an American.

Davy Chou, the French-Cambodian director of Diamond Island, last year’s winner of the screenwriter’s award at the Cannes Film Festival, played down any concerns about having a white American retelling Cambodian history.

“Jolie’s name will bring much attention to the film and it will then bring awareness about the Khmer Rouge. That’s an important thing,” he told Southeast Asia Globe before the film’s Cambodia premiere in February.

“Cambodian directors will have more opportunities in the future to tell their own stories of our history.”