Angelina Jolie responded to growing backlash over the casting process for her latest film, saying she was “upset” that an improvised scene during auditions had been misconstrued as taking real money away from impoverished children.
In a Vanity Fair interview published last week about her film “First They Killed My Father,” Jolie described a game played by the casting directors with the young Cambodian children auditioning for the lead role of Loung Ung.
Jolie, a special envoy for the United Nations refugee agency, told Vanity Fair she looked for her lead star in orphanages, circuses and slum schools.
Jolie defends casting process
In the casting, a child was placed in front of money on a table, asked to think of what they needed it for and to snatch it away. Jolie would then pretend to catch them, and the child would have to lie about why they stole the money.
“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,” Jolie, who directed the film, said in a statement on Sunday.
“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.”
Users on social media slammed Jolie’s casting game as cruel and exploiting impoverished children. Vanity Fair reporter Evgenia Peretz called the casting game “disturbing in its realism” in the profile, while Kayla Cobb at pop culture website Decider.com compared the game to a psychological thriller.
“Everyone should know better than to literally dangle money in front of impoverished children … no movie is worth psychologically traumatizing multiple children,” Cobb wrote.
Movie set during Khmer Rouge regime
“First They Killed My Father” is about the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime under which more than 1 million people died. It is due to be released globally and on Netflix in September.
Jolie said the young girl who won the part, Srey Moch, was chosen after “she became overwhelmed with emotion” when forced to give the money back, saying she needed the money to pay for her grandfather’s funeral.
“The children were not tricked or entrapped, as some have suggested,” Rithy Panh, a Cambodian producer on the film, said in a statement. “They understood very well that this was acting, and make believe.”
News Courtesy: VOA NEWS
India must campaign on social media, rewrite text books and engage its young men if it is to tackle child marriage in a country where nearly half of females wed before the legal age, according to a report released on Friday.
As a result, India ranks among countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world, accounting for a third of the global total of more than 700 million women, according to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.
“Despite the policy attention given to child marriage, implementation has remained ineffective in curbing the root causes, and failed to produce a substantial impact on its eradication,” charity ActionAid India said in its report.
“Legal efforts have failed to break the stranglehold of tradition and culture that continues to support child marriage.”
While boys also marry in childhood, girls are disproportionately affected.
Early marriage makes it more likely that girls will drop out of school, and campaigners say it also increases the risks of exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.
While poverty and low levels of female literacy are often blamed for child marriage, the practice is prevalent even in wealthy households.
A report released last month showed nearly one in four girls in rural areas and one in five in urban areas married early, challenging a long-held assumption that child marriage is largely a rural phenomenon.
This is why the government must be more innovative in getting the message out, using social media and school text books, and starting from a young age, ActionAid said.
Boys and men must also be actively engaged, and religious and cultural institutions brought on board, too.
Government school teachers should be given legal authority to rescue children at risk of child marriage, it said.
Some recent efforts have helped, including a cash incentive, where the state transfers a lump sum to the girl’s bank account if she remains in school and unwed at age 18.
Community efforts have also succeeded: suppliers of wedding tents in Rajasthan state have stopped dozens of child marriages by alerting officials.
News Courtesy: VOA NEWS
A solar-powered drone backed by Facebook that could one day provide worldwide internet access has quietly completed a test flight in Arizona after an earlier attempt ended with a crash landing.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s long-term plan for the drone, called Aquila, is to have it and others provide internet access to 4 billion people around the world who are currently in the dark.
“When Aquila is ready, it will be a fleet of solar-powered planes that will beam internet connectivity across the world,” he wrote on Facebook.
The drone’s second flight was completed in May at Yuma Proving Ground, The Yuma Sun reported.
The drone flew with more sensors, new spoilers and a horizontal propeller stopping system to help it better land after the crash in December. It was in the air for an hour and 46 minutes and elevated 3,000 feet (910 meters).
The drone flew with the engineering team watching a live stream from a helicopter chasing the drone, said Martin Luis Gomez, Facebook’s director of aeronautical platforms.
The team was thrilled with the outcome, Gomez said.
“The improvements we implemented based on Aquila’s performance during its first test flight made a significant difference in this flight,” he said.
The drone weighs about 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) and has a longer wingspan than a Boeing 747.
The drone runs mostly on autopilot, but there are manned ground crews to manage certain maneuvers.
“We successfully gathered a lot of data to help us optimize Aquila’s efficiency,” Zuckerberg said. “No one has ever built an unmanned airplane,”