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Angelina Jolie: Corrupt or Charitable?

31 July 2017 | Pic PR

In a surprising turn of events, Angelina Jolie has recently suffered substantial criticism for a supposedly misconstrued quote relating to her upcoming film.

First They Killed My Father is a forthcoming ‘made-for-Netflix’ thriller, representing a new wave of films that encourage viewers to bypass costly cinema prices in favour of a comparatively cheap Netflix subscription. The film is categorised as a biographical historical thriller, based on author Loung Ung’s memoir of life under the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Jolie co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film.

In a widely-publicised Vanity Fair cover story, she supposedly revealed the casting process which ultimately led to Srey Moch being cast as the young Loung Ung. Casting directors reportedly devised a “game” in which they gave money to a Cambodian child who had experienced hardship, “asked the child to think of something she needed the money for”, and then took it away again.

Jolie is quoted as saying that Moch won the leading role because she became “overwhelmed with emotion” when the money was removed for her reach. “When she asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.”

Many have accused Jolie of exploitation and unnecessary cruelty following the release of this article. However, the actress claims that this quote has been wildly misconstrued: “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.”

As a long-term goodwill ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Angelina Jolie has been a celebrated figure in the media for many years. Seeing as she rarely receives bad press (nowadays, anyway), it’s no wonder that this incident has received significant coverage in the media. Considering that Jolie has been raising awareness of humanitarian issues for decades, it does seem rather unlikely that she would enforce such an unsavoury casting process upon impoverished Cambodian children. Nevertheless, the result of this scandal has still generated publicity around First They Killed My Father. If the film serves to educate people about the realities of dictatorships, surely this is positive? For Jolie personally, however, this PR scandal (which could well be an unfortunate misunderstanding) has undoubtedly put a dent in her otherwise pristine public image.