Angelina Jolie has recently worked on her upcoming movie called First They Killed My Father, which chronicles the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. While auditioning children for one of the roles in the movie, the actress has been blamed for mistreating children.
The allegations were made in a Vanity Fair spread about Jolie. It read: “In order to find their lead, to play young Loung Ung, the casting directors set up a game, rather disturbing in its realism: they put money on the table and asked the child to think of something she needed the money for, and then to snatch it away. The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie.”
The general public was furious with the children’s mistreatment during the audition and they lashed out at Angeline for that.
However, the actress denied all these claims and expressed her shock at the way that the interview framed the entire scenario.
In a statement, the Hollywood star said, “I am upset that a pretend 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 money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened.”
She added, “The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.”
One of the film’s producers Rithy Panh has also released a statement, and called the interview “grossly mischaracterised”.
He elaborated on the improvisation-based audition process: “We wanted to see how they would improvise when their character is found ‘stealing’ and how they would justify their action. The children were not tricked or entrapped, as some have suggested. They understood very well that this was acting, and make believe.”
Angelina further said that “every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present. Parents, guardians, partner NGOs whose job it is to care for children, and medical doctors were always on hand everyday, 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 recreation of such a painful part of their country’s history.”
The movie is set to be released soon and it is based on the memoir by Loung Ung, which chronicles the brutality of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, from the author’s forced ”evacuation” of Phnom Penh in 1975 to her family’s subsequent movements from town to town and eventual separation.