Published Jul 31, 2017Last week, a Vanity Fair cover story on Angelina Jolie resulted in some seriously bad press for her forthcoming film First They Killed My Father. Now, Jolie has bounced back to defend claims she taunted Cambodian orphans with money in the audition process.
According to Vanity Fair, Jolie specifically sought out children who had experiences hardships, recruiting potential actors from orphanages, circuses and slum schools. In the audition process, the filmmakers "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 auditions caused quite a stir online, with plenty of readers criticizing Jolie for this seemingly inhumane audition process. Now, Jolie has released a statement in response to the backlash. Here it is in full [via The Huffington Post]:
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.
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.
The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.
While she did defend the audition process, Jolie didn't respond to criticism of her work with the Cambodian army, who supposedly helped close of Battambang so they could film the movie. Human Rights Watch Asia Division executive director Brad Adams told The Cut that the army is an "extremely abusive rights-violating force" and that "working with the Cambodian army is a no-go zone, it's a red flag, and it's a terrible mistake."
First They Killed My Father will have a Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival in September before heading to Netflix.