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Angelina Jolie Faces Backlash Over Process For Casting Cambodian Children In Netflix Film

'Stop for a moment and consider what Angelina Jolie is doing to these children.'

27/07/2017 16:13 | Updated 27 July 2017

Angelina Jolie and Netflix have been accused of playing “psychological games” with impoverished children, over the way they cast a role in new film ‘First They Killed My Father’. 

The actress sparked a backlash when she revealed she had auditioned Cambodian children to play the lead part of Loung Ung, by setting up an improvised situation where they were given money, before taking it away to see how they’d react. 

The process was detailed in Angelina’s Vanity Fair interview, where it revealed how directors searched in orphanages, circuses and slum schools looking for children “who had experienced hardship” to play the role in the upcoming Netflix film. 

Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
Angelina Jolie directed 'First They Killed My Father'

“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 they needed the money for, and then to snatch it way,” it reads. “The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie.”

Angelina - a celebrated humanitarian - said: “Srey Moch [the girl ultimately chosen for the part] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time.

“When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back. When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a funeral.”

While the children had been made aware of what was happening, the admission has been met with a wave of negative responses, with some people accusing her of exploitation, othering and emotional manipulation of vulnerable young people. 

‘First They Killed My Father’ tells the story of the Khmer Rouge genocide, which occurred from 1975 until 1979 and killed two million Cambodians.

In the Vanity Fair interview, Angelina told of how she was making the film for the people of Cambodia.  

“There wasn’t a person who was working on the movie who didn’t have a personal connection,” she said. “They weren’t coming to do a job. They were walking in the exodus for the people whom they had lost in their family, and it was out of respect for them that they were going to re-create it . . . It completed something for them.”

HuffPost UK has contacted Netflix and representatives for Angelina Jolie for comment, and is awaiting a response. 

Read the full Vanity fair interview with Angelina Jolie here.

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