Angelina Jolie on Bringing the Guerlain x UNESCO Women for Bees Programme to Cambodia

Over the years, working alongside French beautician Guerlain, Angelina Jolie saw himself as a permanent student of bees. Last year, in a radical gesture of being one with nature, she posed, bare-faced and stern, to National Geography video of a swarm of bees lazily tiptoeing over her body. But a simpler image emerged during a recent Zoom session from her office in Los Angeles, when she outlined the importance of a healthy bee population. “Thirty percent of our food comes from pollinators – that says a lot,” Jolie explained comfortably in a casual tank top. “There are some pictures where they show you, ‘Here’s your breakfast with pollinators; This is what would disappear without pollinators. She laughs at the children’s museum nature of the illustration. “I like simple things like that. I’ve been educated a lot, from UNESCO to scientists – but the children’s plates worked for me.”

It was mid-April when we spoke, weeks before Jolie’s surprise visit to the Ukrainian city of Lviv, to meet with refugee families and aid workers. She is known for her role as a humanitarian, having served as a special envoy for the United Nations refugee agency since 2011. A newer role is as godmother for the Guerlain x UNESCO Women for Bees Programme, to be launched in the spring of 2021 with an official role. beekeeper training course in the South of France and to this day, the second in Cambodia. The title of empress somehow seemed fitting for a noisy society centered around a queen. “It’s great when you point out that it has a family vibe, because it is,” Jolie said. She considers it a privilege to “encourage and connect all these extraordinary women, while helping people understand the work they do — through science and connections to the biosphere and heritage.” cultural”.

The expansion of the program to Southeast Asia is welcome news for Jolie. “Cambodia is very dear to my heart, and that is where I became a mother,” she said of her adopted son, Maddox. She visited the country for the first time in 2000, while filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—A glimpse of an area still threatened by conflict. It wasn’t long before she founded a non-profit (Maddox’s name) focused on removing land mines, curbing deforestation, and providing community support with schools and clinics. “Working with UNESCO, working with the World Wildlife Federation, working with Flora & Fauna, we are all talking about how much can be protected because it happens so much,” Jolie said. fast. “So with a bit of urgency, I wanted another show, even more powerful, there.”

Jolie with beekeepers in Cambodia.

Photo by Ian Gavan / Courtesy of Guerlain.

The new six-month beekeeper training course, in Phnom Penh, brought together 12 women, with a particular focus on issues surrounding local honey bees. (Apart from environmental concerns, wild honey hunting can disrupt bee populations.) Earlier this year, Jolie and a 2021 program graduate, Aggelina Kanellopoulou, visited Cambodia, in part to deliver best practices. “This network is so important,” says Jolie, about that metaphorical cross-pollination, which she hopes could one day materialize into the jars of honey on grocery store shelves. “You have this sisterhood in other countries that you can reach.”

Indulging in all things honey has always transformed Jolie’s relationship with the product. She explained with an anecdote. “It happened to me when I was working in Cambodia on a movie and we [spent time] on the rice fields. I took a course on how much money it takes to get a grain of rice. “She likens the experience to a Buddhist meditation session. “A lot of us live in cities, we don’t really think about what it takes to put any dish on our plate. So I see honey, and I think of all the work of the beekeepers, of the bees themselves.” It’s gratitude and love, she laughs. “I’ve put it on everything.”

In the immediate future, Jolie will direct a film adaptation of Alessandro Baricco‘S Bloodless, A fable that revolves around a woman who brutally lost her father and brother in war. It’s a recurring theme in her projects, after her 2017 film The first time they killed my father, tells the story of a Cambodian girl who is forced to become a child soldier under Khmer Rouge rule. “I suppose I am drawn to the extremes of the human condition – to just be human. I am very human. I am very lacking. I’m very raw,” she said, turning the lens inward. “We see the best and the worst of humanity in situations like this.” If her previous film is an opportunity to reframe history— “I appreciate it The field of death grew up, but it’s not in Khmer, and the hero in the center isn’t Cambodian” – the new project doesn’t talk about a specific location. “And it’s not clear who’s right and who’s wrong or good and bad.”

That murky morality, coupled with today’s dizzying points of interest, is a lot that even an adult brain has to consider. How does Jolie handle such subjects at home? “Some of my children come from conflicting countries. Pax being Vietnamese, and we had to adapt what he was taught in history books,” she said. Daughter of She, Zahara, come from Ethiopia, another rife at the moment. “So it’s not a new conversation in our house. But it’s still going on,” said Jolie, referring to the terrible headlines in Ukraine as a topic of discussion among a lot of people, citing the fact that more than 80 million people have been displaced globally. Some of Jolie’s children have joined her in refugee camps around the world. “I never wanted them to feel that this was serving someone,” she said, turning to her mother — or possibly godmother — voice. “You will be honored to meet strong, resilient people who are fighting against oppression and persecution, to meet them and to cooperate with them in any way to survive.” Angelina Jolie on Bringing the Guerlain x UNESCO Women for Bees Programme to Cambodia

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