Angelina Jolie has been accused of child exploitation after the bizarre casting process for her latest movie was revealed – with impoverished Cambodian children being forced to stage a mock battle for money.
The actress has directed First They Killed My Father, a Netflix film about the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in 1970s Cambodia.
But in a recent Vanity Fair interview, the unorthodox process to cast Cambodian child actors was revealed – with casting directors visiting orphanages, circuses, and slum schools in order to cast children who had “experienced hardship”.
“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 they needed the money for, and then to snatch it away”, the article revealed.
“The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie.”
And while the part eventually went to child actress Srey Moch, Jolie openly revealed that the experience had forced her to relive traumatic past experiences.
“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 said.
“When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back. 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.”
— Rebecca Love (@BeccaL_1994) July 27, 2017
Angelina Jolie is crazy. What a cruel psychological game to play with impoverished children. pic.twitter.com/iAEUhINBui
— Denizcan James (@MrFilmkritik) July 26, 2017
The unorthodox casting process has left UNICEF ambassador Jolie facing accusations of child exploitation.
One Twitter user wrote: “What the actual Fuck?!
#AngelinaJolie is totally messed up for thinking this kind of exploitation of kids is okay…crazy world!”
Another said: “Angelina Jolie is crazy. What a cruel psychological game to play with impoverished children.”
The backlash comes ahead of the film’s release on Netflix later this year. Netflix have been contacted for comment by NME.com.