Angelina Jolie has been under fire for several days following a Vanity Fair profile which detailed how the actress-turned-director cast children in her new film, First They Killed My Father.
Essentially, the process - as reported by Vanity Fair - involved Jolie and the casting director going to orphanages in Cambodia with a sum of money and playing a psychological game wherein the children were offered the money and then had the money taken away from them.
The process was heavily critcised, however Jolie has since refuted the article in a statement sent to HuffPo. "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," said Jolie.
"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."
Another point criticised in the VF article WHICH wasn't addressed in Jolie's statement involved her using the Cambodian army, who have been criticised by NGOs for their human rights abuses. The VF article describes how the filmmakers were given access to land permits, as well as over 500 soldiers from the Cambodian army to act in the film as the former Khmer Rouge army. The executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, Brad Adams, sharply criticised Jolie and the producers for working with the Cambodian military.
Speaking to New York Magazine, Adams said that "...(to) ask for permission to make a film and thereby invest in the local economy is fine, and you’re going to have to have some meetings with some government officials. But you can take a stance to make sure you don’t empower, legitimize or pay the wrong people. And working with the Cambodian army is a no-go zone, it’s a red flag, and it’s a terrible mistake."
"This is an army that is basically an occupying force of a dictatorship, it’s used to put down environmental activists - the kind of thing that she stands for is in direct contrast to what this government is."
First They Killed My Father will be released on Netflix before the end of 2017.
Via HuffPo / NY Mag / VF