Angelina Jolie on her new film First They Killed My Father, based on the genocide in Cambodia, politics and her family.
Watch the interview and answer the questions below.
1. What changed Angelina’s life?
2. What happened 40 years ago?
3. In what ways is Angelina related to Cambodia, according to the reporter?
4. What was Angelina’s New Times op-ed piece about?
5. How is Angelina fighting against the intolerance rising in society these days?
6. What does the reporter say Angelina’s film is about?
7. How is Angelina coping after her separation?
8. Where does Angelina see herself in five years’ time?
9. Who’s Angelina sharing her room with?
I'm not here because I'm a director who wanted to make a movie. I'm here because 17 years ago I came to this country and found love with people and learned about its history and in doing so realized how little I actually knew in my early twenties about the world, and so this country for me was my awakening. And my son changed my life. Becoming a Cambodian family changed my life.
So there was never a plan to… we should make this movie. It's just I became a filmmaker and one day I thought what story, what story do I feel is really important to tell? And I felt that this war that happened 40 years ago and… and what happened to these people was not properly understood, and… and not just for the world but for the people of the country. I felt that I wanted them to be able to reflect on it in a way that they could absorb, so it's through the eyes of a child and it's a lot about love.
Do you think, though, this nation is ready for that?
I hope so. Yes, I do… I, I wouldn't have… when I… when I first started coming here… there's so much that’s changed. When many people spoke about this, 15-20 years ago, you know, since that happened there are many people denying the history or saying it wasn't as bad or trying to…, of course, many people want to forget or it's just the horrors, the horrors of war and you just simply…
I mean, it's interesting you say that, you know, this is a country which would have… is very much part of your own personal journey. Do you think that in many ways you've come full circle? You know, your humanitarian work started here, you became a mother here, that perhaps this is some sort of crossroads for you, it's come back here.
Yeah, yeah. I’ll always… I’ll always be very grateful to this country, and I hope, I hope I've given back as much as it's given me. I don't think I ever could give back as much as this country’s given me.
You wrote a New Times op-ed piece a few weeks ago and you spoke about having a truly international family. You said that the refugee policy should be about fact not fear. You also said that we shouldn't be departing from our values. Can you tell me what you meant by that?
It's funny, isn't it, some questions seem so obvious, don't they, you know, it's just… it’s these things we talk about and we… and we hear them spoken about often now, you know, what… what… what are our values? I value life equally, every single individual life. I don't separate people by race, colour, religion, and I… and and if I do, it’s because I celebrate the diversity in the world.
But we are seeing this rise of populist leaders, right, around the world. Do you think it's creating a more intolerant society?
This is… this is an old, an old trick and… and we should know better than to fall for it. And I see it, and I see it rising, and the only thing I can do is to use my voice and encourage others and raise my children to know right and wrong and to have a broad view of the world and… and to embrace their diversity and other people’s and and respect others. And I think that all we can do now is, each and every person, each… each one of your listeners, each one, we all just have to be the best of ourselves. If not… if not now more than ever we really have to rise up and find our rational center, our who are we and what do we stand for. And we know it, we know what's right and wrong.
If I take it back to your… your film, your film is about family and loss. I understand this is a very sensitive issue. We know that an incident occurred which led to your separation. We also know you haven't said anything about this. Would you like to say something?
Only that… I don't want to say very much about that, except to say that it was a very difficult time and… and we are a family, and we will always be a family, and we will get through this time and… and hopefully be a stronger family for it.
Can I ask how you’re coping?
I'm… I'm… many… many people find themselves in a situation and this kind of… you know, my whole… my family we're all… we've all been through a difficult time, you know it's not… my focus is my children, our children and… and it is them and my focus is finding this… this… this way through, and as I said, we are… we are and forever will be a family, and so that is my… that is how I'm coping. I'm coping with… with finding a way through to make sure that this somehow makes us stronger and closer.
This film is a combination of… of passions: Filmmaking as an art, your humanitarian work. In say, five years’ time, where would you like to see yourself? Where do you think you’ll be?
Five years time. Do I have all teenagers?
You have all teenagers at this stage.
At that stage, I hope just standing. Yeah, in five years’ time I would like to be travelling around the world visiting my children, hoping that they're just happy and doing really interesting things. And I imagine in many different parts of the world and I’ll be supporting them and everything I do I hope is that I represent something and I represent the right things to my children and give them the right sense of what they're capable of and… and… and the world as it should be seen, not… not through the prism of… of Hollywood or through a certain kind of life, but really take them into the world where they have a really good sense and become rounded people.
What do you really want to do when you wake up first thing in the morning?
Get through the day. It's been a difficult few months. Right now, I'm going through a moment where there's just everybody's in my room, two hamsters, two dogs and two children at the moment, so it's wonderful but it's a… yes so usually I just wake up trying to figure out who's going to get the dog out, who’s going to start the pancakes and did anybody brush their teeth?
1 Becoming a Cambodian family
2 The war in Cambodia
3 Her humanitarian work started there, she became a mother in Cambodia
4 About her having an international family, about how American values should be about celebrating diversity and not being afraid of diversity
5 By using her voice to denounce the situation and raising her children to be tolerant
6 Family and loss
7 By making sure that her family is stronger and closer together
8 Travelling around the world visiting her children and supporting them and continuing doing things her children feel proud of
9 two hamsters, two dogs and two children