Angelina Jolie spoke exclusively with BBC on the set of her premiere screening of First They Killed My Father.
The UN ambassador and active human rights advocator said that she hoped the film, an autobiographical account of the Khmer Rouge genocide seen through the eyes of a child, would assist Cambodians in healing after such incredible trauma.
The film is based on the book of the same name by Loung Ung and bears witness to the horrific acts of the Khmer Rouge – a genocide where two million people died from either starvation, disease, murder or being overworked in labour camps.
Known as one of the worst human tragedies of the 20th century, the story of First They Killed My Father is one that Jolie felt strongly about retelling in film, and for a new audience.
“I came to this country and I feel in love with its people and learned its history, and in doing so learned, how little I actually knew about the world,” Jolie told BBC’s Yalda hakim.
“This country, for me was my awakening.
“I’ll always be very grateful to this country. I don’t think I ever could give back as much as this country has given me.”
Jolie’s screen adaptation of the book is predominantly in the local Khmer language and she believed that the representation of this story in a more authentic vision, would have an impact both internationally and domestically.
“I thought that this war that happened 40 years ago, and what happened to these people, was not properly understood,” she said.
“I hope it helps the country speak more,”she said, as many survivors have been unable to share their story with their own children.
The film will premiere on Netflix and had its first industry screening at the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap. .
Jolie was joined by her six children and Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni, who had granted Jolie citizenship in 2005 for her incredible work establishing an environmental foundation in the country.
Jolie also spoke for the first time about her personal struggles over the last year, saying “It was very difficult.”
“Many people find themselves in this situation. My whole family have all been through a difficult time. My focus is my children, our children.
“We are and forever will be a family and so that is how I am coping. I am coping with finding a way through to make sure that this somehow makes us stronger and closer.”