Battambang is the setting for the Angelina Jolie-directed movie “First They Killed My Father.” Based on the harrowing autobiography of a young girl during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, Battambang’s historic colonial architecture is still largely intact, and a tourism highlight. Cambodia’s second city is located in the country’s northwest, about 2 hours drive from Siem Reap. For the movie, it took little to transform this historic city into a 1970s setting, aside from installing repro French posters, and repainting the occasional building, The local post office was redesigned as Phnom Penh Post Office.
Bric-à-Brac is located in the colonial heart of Battambang, and just two short blocks from the family’s set home, and Morrison and Robert worked on the set as crew food stylists, creating a dream sequence banquet table where the starving lead character dreams of gorging herself on a huge table of food.
Upon meeting Angelina we were greeted with open arms and heartfelt gratitude, with a resounding “this is exactly what I envisioned.” The brief from Angelina was a suckling pig centerpiece flanked with candied foods, all in pink. We decorated the roast with local flowers and fruits and commissioned traditional sweet shops to adorn golden temple platters, pink fairy floss pierced with incense, jellies with rainbow stripes and candy in luminescent wrappers garland the table.
Preview of, First they killed my father.
Our pre-production took three days, plus a full day day shooting the scene, with take after take of the actress, Sveng Socheatafrantically gorging herself on the elaborate foods laid out in front of her. Each take meant a completely new set up, as the young actress literally flayed her arms across the table in search of more, more, more to quench her insatiable hunger. Luckily we had plenty, and the next day we sent all remaining candies to to a local orphanage.