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Angelina Jolie ‘Upset’ Over Backlash to Cambodia Film Casting Process


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Photo Courtesy: Flickr

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

 

UNESCO Adds to List of World Heritage Sites


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Yazd, Iran World Heritage Site Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

A remote Iranian desert city, Ice Age-era caves in Germany and a stone wharf in Brazil built for arriving African slave ships are three new additions to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.

The World Heritage Committee spent a week meeting in Kraków, Poland, to consider 34 significant historical and cultural sites to add to the list.

This year’s selections include the Iranian city of Yazd, which UNESCO describes as a “living testimony to the use of limited resources for survival in the desert.”

The city has managed to avoid so-called modernization that destroyed many similar Iranian towns, and has preserved its traditional homes, bazaars, mosques and synagogues.

Another site UNESCO added to the list is in the Swabian Jura in southern Germany, one of the areas in Europe where humans first arrived more than 40,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. They settled in caves, first discovered in the 1860s, and where they created some of the oldest known figurative art.

The U.N. cultural organization said the ancient musical instruments and prehistoric carved figures of animals and humans found in the caves help shed light on the origins of human artistic development

UNESCO also placed the Valongo Wharf in central Rio de Janeiro on the World Heritage List. The stone wharves were built in the early 1800s for slave ships sailing from Africa to Brazil. UNESCO called the wharves “the most important physical trace of the arrival of African slaves on the American continent.”

UNESCO added the World Heritage designation to more than 22 sites during its weeklong meeting in Poland, including choices that were controversial.

They include the Hoh Xil area in the China’s Qinghai province, a traditionally Tibetan area. By designating this a World Heritage site, the International Camnpaign for Tibet, an advocacy group critical of China’s administration there, said UNESCO endorses the forced relocation of Tibetan nomads by Chinese authorities.

China has promised to preserve the traditions and cultural heritage of the Tibetan region.

UNESCO also designated the Old City and Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, angering Israel.

The city is split between Israeli and Palestinian control with the Old City and tomb in the Israeli sector. The tomb is sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Israel accuses UNESCO of trying to hide Jewish ties to Hebron, while Palestinians contend Israel is seeking to undermine their history.
News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

 

Timeline: A Chemical Attack, a Shift in US Syrian Policy


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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/File

The U.S. attack on a Syrian air base Friday morning came after years of heated debate and deliberation in Washington over intervention in the bloody civil war.

Chemical weapons have killed hundreds of people since the start of the conflict, with the U.N. blaming three attacks on the Syrian government and a fourth on the Islamic State group.

Here’s a timeline of this week’s events:

April 4, 2017

One of the worst chemical attacks came Tuesday in rebel-held northern Idlib where dozens were killed in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Witnesses said the attack was carried out by either Russian or Syrian Sukhoi jets. Moscow and Damascus denied responsibility.

That attack prompted President Donald Trump, on day 77 of his presidency, to dramatically shift U.S. policy on Syria. Trump issued a statement saying that the “heinous” actions of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government are the direct result of Obama administration’s “weakness and irresolution.”

After the attack, hospitals around Khan Sheikhoun were overwhelmed, and paramedics sent victims to medical facilities across rebel-held areas in northern Syria, as well as to Turkey.

President Donald Trump and Jordan’s King Abdullah II hold a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, April 5, 2017.

April 5, 2017

Trump says Assad’s government had “crossed a lot of lines” with the chemical attack in Syria. At a joint Rose Garden news conference alongside Jordanian King Abdullah II, Trump said the attack “cannot be tolerated.”

U.S. forces are said to have targeted Shayrat Airfield in western Syria, in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack that American officials believe Syrian government aircraft launched on a rebel-held town with a nerve gas, possibly sarin.

April 6, 2017 

The U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Friday morning in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack against civilians. Trump said strike on Syria in the “vital national security interest” of the United States.
U.S. officials had said they hoped for a vote Thursday night on a U.N. Security Council resolution that would condemn the chemical attack, but the vote did not take place.

April 7, 2017

Syria decried a U.S. missile attack on a government-controlled air base where U.S. officials say the Syrian military launched a deadly chemical attack earlier this week, calling it an “aggression” that led to “losses.”

A Syrian opposition group, the Syrian Coalition, welcomed the U.S. attack, saying it puts an end to an age of “impunity” and should be just the beginning.

Major Jamil al-Saleh, a U.S-backed rebel commander whose Hama district in the country’s center was struck by a suspected chemical weapons attack, said he hoped the U.S. attack on a government air base would be a “turning point” in the six-year war.

Text Credit: VOA

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