The movie based on the sci-fi novel by Jeff VanderMeer features a character described in the book as “dark, thick eyebrows, a slight, slightly off-center nose (broken once, falling on rocks), and high cheekbones that spoke to the strong Asian heritage on one side of her family.” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
That character is portrayed by Natalie Portman.
The character of the psychologist is half-American Indian/half-Caucasian, but played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.
“Writer/director Alex Garland is not being true and honest to the characters in the book,” MANAA board member Alieesa Badreshia said. “He exploits the story but fails to take advantage of the true identities of each character. Hollywood rarely writes prominent parts for Asian American and American Indian characters, and those roles could’ve bolstered the careers of women from those communities.”
The American Indians in Film and Television have also condemned the film.
Both characters the producers are accused of Whitewashing were not described as Asian and Native American until followups to the original Annihilation book.
“It would not be in my nature to whitewash anything. That just wouldn’t be like me,” Writer/director Alex Garland told the Nerdist. I read a book and I adapted it because I thought the book was amazing. And I thought, ‘I’m not exactly sure how to adapt this, but I’ve got an idea.’ And I just went with it. So that was it.”
The movie is scheduled to be released February 23 in theaters with international distribution planned on Netflix.
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