Angelina Jolie defends controversial audition process to cast Cambodian children for her new film


This past week Anglina Jolie was featured in a very dense Vanity Fair feature story that detailed the fallout from her divorce to Brad Pitt, recent health struggles, and another of other hot button topics. Amidst all the headline frenzy, another detail rose to the surface. The article explained a very controversial, and possibly cruel, audition process used on children for Jolie’s new film First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. This weekend, Jolie addressed the backlash.

According to the report, the film’s crew “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.”

Jolie said in the magazine that the actress who got the part, Sareum Srey Moch “was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time.” When asked to give the money back, the little girl became quite emotional and explained that she wanted the money to pay for her recently deceased grandfather’s funeral because her family didn’t have enough money.

Jolie issued a statement to The Huffington Post defending the film’s casting game and putting it in context of the script. She 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.”

A source told the site that this was simply improvisation for a scene in the movie based on an incident in the film’s inspiration, Loung Ung’s real life. The children audition reportedly knew that this was an acting exercise, however most of the children auditioning were not trained actors but local Cambodians, many of which were orphans or living in poverty.

The film is about Loung Ung striving the Kmer Rouge killings that claimed 2 million Cambodians in the 1970s, including her own family. Srey Moch Sarum, who was chosen to play Ung, is from a slum community and is obviously disadvantaged because her family could not even afford to bury her grandfather.

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