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Published April 19th 2015
The ugly truth: human trafficking is part of Australia
Liam was sold by his father at 13. A life of prostitution, drugs and violence has brought him to the final despair: dying from AIDS. He reflects on the life he would have had if he had been deemed good enough or worthy by his father. Could he have been the school captain? Could he have graduated from university with honours? Could he have had a fulfilling relationship with a beautiful girl? Could he have gone on to have a family of his own?
A Life Unwanted began as an assignment for writer-director Serena Jayde while studying at the New York Film Academy. It is a condensed introduction to an anticipated feature film based on the stage production written by Carli Carey in 2014, Trafficked. Far from a foreign topic for Jayde, who has had first-hand experience with trafficked victims, the story is real, raw, and very much Australian.
The cast and crew shot the 20-minute short film in two days. They wanted the result to do justice for one victim's life which had none. The images are morally challenging, with minimal spoken words, and a seemingly calm but repetitively piercing music score by Joshua Stromer titled Arctic Sun. The irony is evident: everything Liam wanted did not exist in his life. And the bigger mockery is finding gender equality in slavery: males are victims too.
On any given day, slavery is a confronting subject for all. We may have some idea of it happening, in some countries less developed than Australia and too far to affect us immediately. Around the world, more than 21 million people are victims of human trafficking. To put the figure into perspective, this equates to every Australian less the population of Brisbane being enslaved. With an estimate of $35 billion in annual revenue, it is a lucrative business. And yes, slavery occurs in Australia and it is much closer than we want to believe.
Lachlan Edmonds-Munro, who plays Liam, admits that prior to making this film he had no awareness of the epidemic moral disease that is human trafficking. He has learned from the experience that people may not necessarily be what they seem, that someone we know could be a trafficker or worse, the trafficked.
Jayde is determined to raise awareness about difficult social issues through her work. In her own words, "if what I do can in some way, any way, save just one victim, then this is all worthwhile."
A Life Unwanted has been accepted in many film festivals in Australia and abroad. Follow its journey here and spread the word.