Film of the week
Feminist producer Roz Heller's latest film Trade, a cautionary tale of human trafficking, opens today. For more information including theatre locations: Trade
Trade is not an easy movie to watch -- which makes it all the more important to do so. The State Department estimates that 800,000 people -- 80% women and 50% children -- are trafficked across international borders each year. At last estimate, at least 10,000 are being smuggled into the US annually. These women and children are procured by a variety of means, some are stolen off the street, some are sold by family members, and some are duped with a promise of a better life.
Trade follows the story of Adriana (Paulina Gaitan), a happy 13-year old girl who is stolen off her bike while riding around her neighborhood in Mexico. The bike, which she received as a birthday gift from her brother, upset her mother because she knew the danger her daughter could be in while riding alone on the streets. But her brother, Jorge (Cesar Ramos), a petty criminal who shakes down tourists promising sex with minors, has no idea the danger he has put her in.
After Adriana's abduction Jorge sets out to get her back and relies on his street savvy to do so not realizing the global implications -- he just wants his sister back. On his journey he meets Ray (Kevin Kline) a Texas cop, on his own search and they become uneasy partners to recover Adriana in the short window they have before she disappears forever.
German director Marco Kreuzpainter using mostly handheld camera brings us on their journey from Mexico across the border all the way to the stash house in New Jersey where Adriana will be sold online to the highest bidder.
The most painful and harrowing scenes are the sex scenes because they are not about sex, but about rape. The scenes are extremely well done and because you know what happens you don't need to see anything -- the director leaves it to your imagination -- and retains the dignity of the victims. An example of this is when Adriana is sold for the first time you see pulled into a bed of reeds, which serves as a kind of hidden sex shanty town. The toilet paper hanging, and the scared faces of the kids is enough for you to know what goes on the cardboard planks between the reeds.
Because the film world is lately so fixated on escapist entertainment, it might be difficult to engage audiences in this film. Hopefully, it will have a long life as an educational tool, because the most important message is that this is happening right under our noses and we look the other way and don't do anything about it. It's time we woke up as a culture and decided that we are not going to tolerate the selling women and children for others sexual pleasure. It's sick and wrong and governments across the world need to take this much more seriously.
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September 28, 2007
Film of the week
Posted by Melissa Silverstein at 9:55 AM