Angelina Jolie Pitt is the latest top-tier talent to go the digital route, as the multihyphenate is working with Netflix on “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” a film she will direct for the studio.
The pic is based on a memoir from Cambodian author and human-rights activist Loung Ung about surviving the deadly Khmer Rouge regime.
Jolie Pitt will direct and produce the Netflix project from a script she co-adapted with Ung. Cambodian director and producer Rithy Panh, helmer of the Oscar-nominated foreign-language film “The Missing Picture,” will also be a producer.
The film will be made available to members of the streaming service in late 2016 and will be submitted to major international festivals.
Ung was 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge regime assumed power over Cambodia in 1975 and began a four-year reign of terror and genocide in which nearly 2 million Cambodians died. Forced from her family’s home in Phnom Penh, Ung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while her six siblings were sent to labor camps. Ung survived and wrote “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” which was first published in 2000. Jolie Pitt read the book and contacted Ung over a decade ago. They became close friends and later adapted the screenplay together.
“I was deeply affected by Loung’s book,” Jolie Pitt said. “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.”
Jolie Pitt’s Cambodian-born son, Maddox, will also be involved in the production of the film.
Netflix’s global reach was a major factor in Jolie Pitt’s desire to partner with the streaming service. “Films like this are hard to watch but important to see,” said Jolie Pitt. “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.” The film will be released in both Khmer and English.
“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 said. “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 Pitt is in post-production on “By the Sea,” a drama she wrote and directed, as well as stars in with Brad Pitt; it will be released by Universal this year. Jolie Pitt recently directed Universal’s “Unbroken,” based on the life of Olympian and World War II POW survivor Louis Zamperini. She made her feature directorial debut with “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”
She is repped by UTA and Media Talent Group.