On September 15, 2017, the Netflix movie “First They Killed My Father,” directed by Angelina Jolie will be released. After seeing the trailer, I couldn’t help but remember the stories my great grandma, grandparents, and mom had told me about their life before and after the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge (The Communist Party Kampuchea), started in April of 1975, and ended January of 1979. I decided to show my mom the trailer, get her feedback on this upcoming movie, and just have a conversation about her life during those dark times.
When I showed my mom the trailer, I did not tell her what she was about to watch. As she was watching the trailer, she started saying, “what?” “this is….,” and as the trailer was concluding, “this is Cambodia.”
Note: I’m speaking to my mom in English, and my mom is responding in Cambodian, so I am translating my mom’s response to English.
Q: What do you think about the trailer, “First They Killed My Father?”
No movie or TV show can explain what really happened. It can show what happened, but there’s so much more outside of it. The feeling and emotion of what we [people of that time] went through, can never be truly shown on TV. Yes, most of what I saw in the trailer, I went through myself, but there’s just so much more to it. The feelings and pain we felt at the time – I don’t know how to explain it. That time felt like forever. We had no calendar or anything to really keep track of the days that had gone by. We lived in fear, and we kept trying to survive. I don’t even remember my actual birth date. I still remember when I heard on the radio that the war was over – “3 years, 8 months, and 20 days,” but it felt a lot longer than that, a lot longer.
Q: In this trailer, kids were trained to use weapons. Did they really trained kids to use weapons?