Jasmine lives in a room crowded together with a dozen other teenagers in a concrete building that lacks running water. She works seven days a week from 8am until 2am removing lint from denim jeans. She earns US$1 a day.
Jasmine, one of the estimated 130 million members of China’s so-called floating population, is the central character in director Micha X. Peled’s 88-minute China Blue, a documentary about migrant labor in China. The film is one of five documentaries being shown as part of the 2008 Anti-Human Trafficking Film Festival organized by the Garden of Hope Foundation (勵馨基金會) to shed light on the issue of human trafficking. The films will be screened in four cities throughout Taiwan beginning today and running until the end of October.
It’s a sad fact that many migrant workers in Taiwan face conditions similar to those of their counterparts in China, a phenomenon documented in Olwen Bedford’s Working for a Better Future. The 24-minute film uses the lives of two Vietnamese workers to illustrate many of the hardships — forced debt, harsh working conditions, low wages — that thousands of migrant workers endure in Taiwan.
Luigi Acquisto takes the viewer on a journey from the streets of Sydney to Thailand’s sex industry in Trafficked. Acquisto follows former police officer Chris Payne, who travels to Thailand to solve the mystery of “Nikki,” a young Thai girl deported from Australia after she was caught working in a brothel. On the way he meets the parents of another sex slave whose death at a Sydney immigration facility caused outrage in Australia.
Looking on the bright side, Meeta Vasisht’s Summer Moon shows how victims of human trafficking can recover and go on to lead fulfilling lives. Vasisht films a group of former sex workers who use their experiences to stage humorous dramas aimed at shaming customers in the human marketplaces of India and Nepal.
And since no film festival raising awareness of a social issue would be complete without famous people showing how much they care, there’s Traffic: An MTV EXIT Special, which enlists well-known celebrities such as Karen Mok (莫文蔚), who narrates a story about the “trafficking chain” that follows a woman trafficked from the Philippines and forced into prostitution, a trafficker who forces women into prostitution, and a woman who runs a shelter for migrants.
The 2008 Anti-Human Trafficking Film Festival Taipei screenings are tonight at 7pm and tomorrow and Sunday at 2pm at the Shin Kong Cineplex (新光影城), 4F and 5F, 36 Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路36號4-5樓); screenings are also scheduled for Taichung (Oct. 14 to Oct. 16), Kaohsiung (Oct. 21 to Oct. 23) and Taitung (Oct. 24). Admission for all screenings is free. On the Net: www.goh.org.tw/AntiHumanTrafficking. — Noah Buchan