Angelina Jolie Responds To Claims Of Child Actor Exploitation In Her ‘First They Killed My Father’ Auditions

Angelina Jolie is speaking out following a Vanity Fair profile that presented the multimillionaire multihyphenate’s filmmaking approach in a somewhat unflattering light. Specifically, the treatment of child actors attempting to earn a role in her film First They Killed My Father.

Jolie has come under fire over a reported “game” used in the audition process. The film, an adaptation of Loung Ung’s Khmer Rouge years moulded memoir, searched for members of the cast with visits to “orphanages, circuses and slum schools” to find actors for their drama. Casting directors would put money on the table, the child would be encouraged to think of what they would need the money for and the money would ultimately be snatched away. (As you can see from VF‘s example, it’s not a very cheery process.) The circumstances around the exercise gave off an aura of exploitation and cruelty to some readers.

In a statement released on Saturday, Jolie fought back against the Vanity Fair characterization. Jolie, who serves as a Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, swung back at claims of mistreatment. She stressed that no one was hurt by this process and that doctors, parents and other observers were on-hand during the exercise.

“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,” read Jolie’s statement.

Jolie, who directed the film, said the audition “game” described in the profile was an improvisation exercise based off a scene in the film. She also said real money was not taken from children during the auditions.

“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.”

Cambodian filmmaker and First They Killed My Father producer Rithy Panh told The Huffington Post (via statement) that the children involved in the audition were completely informed on what was going on and measures were taken for their protection.

“Great care was taken with the children not only during auditions, but throughout the entirety of the film’s making,” said Panh. “Because the memories of the genocide are so raw, and many Cambodians still have difficulty speaking about their experiences, a team of doctors and therapists worked with us on set every day so that anyone from the cast or crew who wanted to talk could do so.”

First They Killed My Father is slated to arrive on Netflix later this year.

(Via The Huffington Post)