Jolie replies to 'false and upsetting' criticism of casting process for new film

The director claims a scene in the film has been written about as if it was real

Jolie replies to 'false and upsetting' criticism of casting process for new film

File photo

Angelina Jolie has hit back at accounts of her giving children money and then taking it back from them.

The actress had reportedly been casting her new film 'First They Killed My Father' which centres on the main character's childhood under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

The film, directed by Jolie, shows a portrayal of the Khmer Rouge from the view of a five-year-old survivor cut off from her family in 1975.

A Vanity Fair article described a scene in which casting directors trying to find a child actress to play the lead role gave money to poor children, only to take it away again as an acting exercise.

The report prompted criticism from those who said the method was cruel and exploitative.

But Jolie and producer Rithy Panh denied the claims in a statement released through Netflix, which is making and distributing the film.

Jolie said: "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."

She added that doctors, guardians and parents were on the film set every day 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".

Panh, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge, said: "The children were not tricked or entrapped as some have suggested.

"They understood very well that this was acting and make believe."

Vanity Fair said in a statement that the writer of the article Evgenia Peretz "clearly describes what happened during the casting process as a game".

They added that the film-makers "went to extraordinary lengths to be sensitive in addressing the psychological stresses on the cast and crew that were inevitable in making a movie about the genocide carried out in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge".

The film, described by Netflix as emotional and dark, will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.