Thursday, October 5, 2017

Movie with Abe: Trafficked

Directed by Will Wallace
Released October 6, 2017

There are important issues that need to be brought to light, and while documentaries serve their purpose, they usually appeal to those already interested either in advocating for social justice. Dramatizing harrowing stories, whether literal adaptations or fictionalized representations, can be more effective since their narrative style is likely to reach a wider audience. The translation from nonfiction exposé to realized cinematic narrative isn’t always smooth or impressive, and in such cases it’s more worthwhile to focus on the greater story being told than to criticize the specific manner in which it has been done.

In this drama inspired if not entirely based on real people, three young women from very different backgrounds are kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. Sara (Kelly Washington) was taken from her American orphanage by a seemingly motherly figure (Ashley Judd), Amba (Alpa Banker) was abducted by a jealous suitor in India, and Mali (Jessica Obilom) has been sent around the world since being taken from Nigeria five years earlier. They face the harsh realities of being trapped in a horrifying, inescapable situation somewhere in Texas where they are subject to total and complete control by men who prey on their individuality and try to brainwash them into believing that they should get with the program in order to earn their freedom after they fulfill their “debt” of five hundred men.

It’s myths and untruths like that which make the experience of watching it vital and eye-opening. The casting of nice-looking, clean men as the worst abusers of women who regularly punch and hit them when they refuse to comply and the sight of men in suits and fancy clothes who come to have their way with them is surely not accidental, and Judd’s character is even more tuned into society, living in a nice home and driving a minivan. Anyone lucky enough to be watching this film from the comfort of a movie theater or their own home has it much better than these people do and should heed this wake-up call to the realities of what is going on in the world. The devastating statistic that human trafficking brings in more money each year than Google, Microsoft, Nike, and Starbucks combined is an incredible and utterly unbelievable figure that demands more stories like this be brought to public attention.

This particular film pales in comparison to its message. “Trafficked” is written by Harvard professor Siddharth Kara, who has done extensive research in this area, and the film also touches on organ, drug, and gun trafficking. The dialogue and the acting in this film are not of a very high caliber, but the story is immensely disturbing and its importance is not lost even if it’s very lacking in cinematic quality. Reading up on any of the organizations that have endorsed this film - The United Nations, CNN Freedom Project, Demand Abolition, Saving Innocence, and The Orphaned Starfish Foundation – is probably a better use of time than spending an hour and forty-five minutes watching this film.


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