Yesterday at the Toronto International Film Festival, I saw a movie written and directed by Angelina Jolie – First They Killed My Father.
It is an incredibly powerful and beautiful film. A film so sensitive and intimate, yet heart wrenching and provoking that it could only have been so brilliantly told by a woman.
A woman with a big heart.
A woman whose big heart is full of love, and whose mind overflows with wisdom and deep intuition.
A spirit soul.
The film is broadly about a loving family which is slowly and systematically destroyed by the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, a regime that killed a quarter of the entire population of Cambodia during its short four-year reign from 1975 to 1979.
By United Nations estimates, this number equals 3 million people, people who had previously jubilated and welcomed them to power.
She made this film for her son Maddox Jolie-Pitt, who she adopted from Cambodia.
And in her words she also made the movie:
“…that we may remember that evil needs our active collaboration and casual disinterest to come alive.”
But that was not the most memorable moment.
Yes there were several of them, which happened in the theatre as we watched the film. There were tears all over as the film pulled you in and made you ponder and wonder, reflect and cringe, smile and hope, extrapolate and learn.
It tells you starkly – This can happen to you too.
It is a true life story.
And it shows how we can, through our own words and actions while expressing our grievances and disillusionment, unwittingly pave the way to power for the ones who claim to have our interest at heart but are actually bent on creating an incredibly barbarous dystopia, which will ultimately destroy us.
It says be careful who you label “Saviour”.
Many a madman speaks intelligently.
Many a demon are cloaked in the vestiges of angels.
As Lonzo Nzekwe and I watched it, I turned to him and asked him, “Who does this remind you of in Nigeria?”
And he mentioned a name – the same name that was in my mind.
We fell back into silence as we watched on. And then Lonzo whispered, “All I am thinking of are my children.”
And there were tears in his eyes.
It is a film about Cambodia. Yet it reminds you so much of Nigeria. This path we are treading.
Be careful on whose head you want the crown laid.
During the Q and A session, after we had watched the movie, a young girl stood up and asked Angelina, “What do we do when people like these come to us saying that they want to free us from oppression?”
And Angelina responded in that her quiet but deeply loving and enlightened way.
“First of all, be brave, stand up and ask questions. The person who would kill you while purporting to save you hates answering questions. They detest being held to any reasonable standards of expectations. That is your red flag. That is the sign. When they attempt to shut you down, it is your duty to oppose them in any way you can. If you stay silent, you give them power. If you give them power, they will ultimately kill you.”
May we all stay woke.
These are dangerous times.