Ahead of First They Killed My Father, the upcoming Netflix film to be directed by Angelina Jolie, accusations have been thrown at the star for the film’s bizarre method of casting its lead role.

The film is a biographical historical thriller, written by Jolie and Loung Ung, and adapted from Ung’s memoir of the same name. The story follows a childhood survivor of the Pol Pot regime, and is a personal account of their time during the Khmer Rouge years.

But in an interview with Vanity Fair, the method of finding the right child star was outed, and it has been met with confusion and backlash.

The production wanted a child with ‘experienced hardship’, and to find this child, Jolie and her casting directors traveled to various orphanages, circuses and slum schools. There, they set up a game, which, as Vanity Fair puts it, was ‘rather disturbing in its realism’.

The ‘game’, involved money being put on a table, with the children forced to think up a reason for why they might need the money, and subsequently try and take it. Once they had the money in their possession, they would be ‘caught’ and forced to think up a lie for their staged crime.

The central part was eventually given to child actress Srey Moch, who, after staring at the money for an extended period of time before being forced to give it back, had her thought process revealed in conversation with Jolie, who teared up when recounting this next section:

“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.”

After this interview was published, Jolie’s actions saw a lot of backlash, as the UNICEF ambassador is now being accused of child exploitation.

First They Killed My Father will be available on Netflix later this year. 


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