It's thanks to Maddox that the movie was made, Jolie told The Guardian. After deciding to adapt the Loung Ung book, she put it on hold to work on other projects and avoid controversy in Cambodia. But he convinced her to pick it back up.
Then, while she was directing the movie, Jolie consulted Maddox. "He was the one who just called it and said he was ready and that he wanted to work on it, which he did. He read the script, helped with notes, and was in the production meetings," she said.
Since Maddox was adopted from Cambodia himself, he got his mom interested in the nation's history. She decided to make the film to understand her son's country of origin even more, according to Vulture. "We all knew on set that this wasn’t just a movie Angelina was making, but this is also in some respect her story — her son’s story," Ung told People.
"We’ve been coming back and forth for 17 years, it feels like a second home to me," Jolie said at a press conference in Cambodia for the movie's premiere. "The children have close ties to the children here, many of them are their best friends. Maddox is happy to be back in his country."
After premiering in Cambodia on February 18, the movie hits Netflix later this year.