Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official.
When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army captured Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung’s family fled their home and moved from village to village to hide their identity, their education, their former life of privilege. Eventually, the family dispersed in order to survive. Because Loung was resilient and determined, she trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while other siblings were sent to labor camps. As the Vietnamese liberated Cambodia by overthrowing the Khmer Rouge, the surviving siblings were slowly reunited.
Published in the United States in 2000 by HarperCollins, it became a national bestseller, and in 2001 it won the award for “Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature” from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. First They Killed My Father has subsequently been published in twelve countries in nine languages and has a film adaptation.
The book has been adapted into a movie that was produced and directed by Angelina Jolie. The film premiered on February 18, 2017 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. “The heart of it is Loung’s story”, Jolie states in the film. “It’s the story of a war through the eyes of a child, but it is also the story of a country”. To construct an accurate portrait of the genocide and war, Jolie used only Cambodian actors who speak their native language, Khmer. She gathered hundreds of survivors and their children to re-create their stories. The movie was filmed in Cambodia.
According to en.wikipedia.org