Angelina Jolie defends child-casting ‘game’ for Cambodia film

Actor says reports of alleged exploitation in casting for Netflix Khmer Rouge movie First They Killed My Father are false and upsetting

Angelina Jolie has rebutted an account of a controversial child-casting technique being implemented in her new cinema First They Killed My Father, calling it false and upsetting.

The account appeared as part of a profile of Jolie for Vanity Fair. It described an audition process for the made-for-Netflix movie, which is adapted from writer Loung Ungs memoir of life under the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. According to the article, casting directors devised a game to assist select a child to play the lead role where they dedicated fund to a child who had experienced adversity, asked the child to think of something she needed the money for, and then took it away again.

Jolie is quoted as saying that the girl who eventually won the proportion became overwhelmed with emotion when the money was taken away from her. When she was asked afterwards what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didnt have enough money for a nice funeral, she said.

The excerpt sparked outrage online, with some accusing Jolie of exploitation. However, Jolie, who is a goodwill ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency( UNHCR ), says that the workout has been misconstrued.

Every measure was taken to ensure the safety, convenience and wellbeing of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present, she said in a joint statement built with one of the films producers, Rithy Panh, to the Huffington Post. Mothers, protectors, partner NGOs whose chore it is to care for children and medical doctors were always on hand every day, to ensure everyone had all they needed. And above all, to make sure that no one was in any way hurt by participating in the re-creation of such a painful part of their countrys history.

I am upset that a feign exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario. The suggestion that real fund was taken from small children during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened. The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help oppose protecting children, she added.

Panh added that the scene relates to a real episode from the life of Loung Ung and underlined that those auditioning were aware that the exert was not real. The children were not tricked or entrapped, as some have suggested. They understood very well that this was acting, and make believe, he said.

First They Killed My Father will be shown at the Toronto international movie festival, and will likely be released on Netflix afterwards this year.

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