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Angelina Jolie to direct Khmer Rouge drama for Netflix

Angelina Jolie in a scene from Changeling.

Story by Jack Foley

ANGELINA Jolie is to direct a film about children caught up in Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime for Netflix.

The film will be based on a memoir by a former child soldier named Loung Ung, entitled First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, and it has been co-written by Jolie with Ung.

According to reports, Jolie’s son, Maddox, will also be involved in the production, which is due to go into production shortly ahead of its premiere on the streaming service in 2016.

Maddox was adopted from Cambodia in 2002.

Commenting on her involvement, the actress-turned director said she was “deeply affected” by the book and admits the film will be “hard to watch”.

“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 said.

Ung, who has since become a human rights activist in Cambodia, was just five-years-old when the Khmer Rouge regime took power in Cambodia in 1975. He subsequently lived through a four-year reign of terror and genocide in which nearly 2 million Cambodians died.

Her memoir reveals how she was forced from her family’s home in Phnom Penh and trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, while her six siblings were sent to labour camps.

Jolie, who is also a UN Special Envoy for refugees, got in touch with Ung after reading her memoir following its publication in 2000. The two have since developed a strong friendship, with Ung a passionate admirer of Jolie’s work as “a woman, a mother, a filmmaker and a humanitarian”.

Jolie is no stranger to tackling challenging, real-life subject matter as a filmmaker. She made her feature film debut as a director with 2011’s In The Land of Blood and Honey, which was set against the backdrop of the Bosnian war, while her 2014 film Unbroken told the true story of Olympian and World War Two prisoner of war survivor Louis Zamperini.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer, said they were “proud” to be working with Jolie on such an “emotionally powerful and ultimately uplifting story”.

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