Here’s the trailer for Angelina Jolie’s Netflix movie First They Killed My Father, an intensely brutal account of all the terror experienced by children in the Cambodian genocide.
The movie, based on the memoir by Loung Ung, views the genocide through the eyes of Ung, who at five years old witnessed soldiers taking over the city of Phnom Penh, followed by four years of savage killings at the hands of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Ung lost her mother, father, two sisters and 20 relatives; in 1980, she and her older brother managed to escape to Thailand.
As you’d imagine, the trailer’s tone touches on loss of innocence, with depictions of child soldiers and kids forced into labor. The film’s controversial audition process, as Jolie explained in her Vanity Fair cover story, involved asking children to envision a dream scenario with money:
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.
Jolie responded to the outrage this week with outrage of her own in a statement: “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.”