In Angelina Jolie’s new cover story in Vanity Fair, she describes her intense method of casting children in her latest film, “First They Killed My Father” — and it’s sparking outrage.
“First They Killed My Father” is based on Loung Ung’s memoir by the same name, which details Ung’s experience as a young child in Cambodia, as the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, and the genocide that followed. Jolie travelled to Cambodia in an effort to find children who she thought would be great for the lead role of young Ung.
Jolie sought out impoverished children to play the part of Ung, specifically those she deemed had experienced hardship. Then Jolie, along with her casting director, played games with them that have come across as cruel and unnecessary to many.
Here’s the relevant paragraph from the Vanity Fair piece:
“To cast the children in the film, Jolie looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship. In order to find their lead, to play young Loung Ung, 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 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. ‘Srey Moch [the girl ultimately chosen for the part] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,’ Jolie says. ‘When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back.’ Jolie then tears up. ‘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 nice funeral.'”
The article goes on to explain Jolie’s methods as a way of garnering raw emotion from the children, but to many the method comes off as excessive and mean-spirited.
Here are a few reactions from Twitter:
angelina jolie is a cultural tourist and pro imperialist monster but i didnt think she would stoop to torturing children on a personal lvl
— majora’s masc (@digitalcryptid) July 27, 2017