Dakota Fanning is known for playing cute, little girls, but her latest film role is more controversial than cute.
In her new film, "Hounddog," an independent film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, Fanning, 12, plays a troubled 12-year-old who is sexually abused by her father.
Some of that abuse is depicted in the movie, and critics are wondering why such a young actress was cast in such a graphic role.
Paul Petersen, a former child star of "The Donna Reed Show," is one of those critics.
"A child was engaged in seamy portrayals for commercial purposes," Petersen said. "There is no legal authority for anyone to subject a child to this."
Director, Star Brush off Criticism
The film was shot in North Carolina, which bans simulated sex with a minor.
According to The New York Times, a local district attorney who watched the film said no crime had been committed.
Fanning isn't the first young actress to raise eyebrows with a nontraditional role. Jodie Foster was only 13 and Brooke Shields 11 when they played child prostitutes in "Taxi Driver" and "Pretty Baby," respectively.
Deborah Kampmeier, the director of "Hounddog," says the criticism of her film is unfounded.
"The negative response to it is from people who haven't seen the film," Kampmeier said. "People who have seen the film are actually very supportive of it."
Fanning, too, brushes aside the controversy.
"There are so many untrue things out there. I just choose to not let those bother me and just think about what I know is true," she said. "I just love the movie and hope that everyone can see it and learn something from it."