Angelina Jolie is “upset” over a recent Vanity Fair cover story that she says mischaracterized the auditions some Cambodian children went through for her new film First They Killed My Father.
“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,” Jolie said in a statement to HuffPost. “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.”
Directed and co-written by Jolie, First They Killed My Father is based on Loung Ung’s 2000 memoir about surviving the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.
Jolie, who serves as a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and whose son Maddox is from Cambodia, came under criticism after Vanity Fair described her casting search in harsh terms. According to contributing editor Evgenia Peretz, Jolie and her collaborators “looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship.”
Peretz wrote that to find their young lead, the casting directors set up a game “rather disturbing in its realism,” in which they placed money in front of children, asked them to think of something they needed the money for, and then snatched it away. The children were also asked to pretend they had been caught and had to come up with a lie.
Jolie refuted that portrayal in her statement. “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,” she said. “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.”
Representatives for Jolie, Netflix (which is distributing the film), and Vanity Fair did not immediately respond to request for comment.Related youtube video: (not from post)