Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Redlight Children Campaign

The people that put together the K11 Project - they've produced 3 films focusing on child trafficking and prostitution in SEAsia and particularly Cambodia - have also initiated The Redlight Children Campaign. The intention is to generate conscious concern and inspire immediate action against child sexploitation. It's a worldwide grassroots initiative whose mission is to reduce the number of children sold to the sex industry and exploited on the internet. You can find out more by clicking here. As for the K11 Project, the 60th Edinburgh International Film Festival last week was the stage for the world premier of the film Holly (pictured), and it earned rave reviews as a result. Certainly the K11 Project team are hell-bent on telling their story and getting their message to the masses. Read more here.


Andy said...

They are launching The RedLight Children Campaign on September 8th in an event that will wrap up the UN's Dept of Public Information & Non Governmental Organisation Conference in New York (their biggest conference of the year). The event will consist of a presentation by Guy Jacobsen and a screening of parts of the films, followed by a panel composed of
celebrities and the head of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime.

Andy said...

Jeff asked if there are any on-line reviews for HOLLY. I caught this one at

A ne'er-do-well American drifter tries to save a 12-year-old Vietnamese girl sold as a Phnom Penh prostitute in capable social issue pic "Holly." Though treading a firm, clear-eyed line between education and exploitation, the well-acted and technically proficient drama -- too chaste to scandalize, too dark for general audiences -- works as a mobilizing tool for its cause, but is iffy for all save specialized playdates and ancillary biz.
A card shark going from scheme to scheme in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, American hustler Patrick (Ron Livingston) is enlisted by cynical, Bangkok-based crime boss Freddie (Chris Penn, in one of his last performances) to move stolen artifacts across the border. The job's barely underway when Patrick's motorcycle breaks down in the notorious K11 red light village. Stuck there overnight, he's educated on the nature of the place by dissolute attorney Claus (Udo Kier), who summarizes Man's basic urges by explaining that in the company of the brothel's women, "I never felt so close to heaven."

Patrick's revulsion turns to idealism when he befriends 12-year-old Holly (newcomer Thuy Nguyen), sold by her Vietnamese family into the sex trade and highly prized for her intact virginity. He discovers a clever, stubborn girl beneath the traumatized exterior and becomes determined to save her -- though their strictly platonic relationship is misinterpreted by almost everyone they meet.

But between Holly's instinctual contrariness and Patrick's blatant violation of the unwritten rules of organized vice, the deck's stacked against them. As a rudderless cad transformed by a righteous indignation he didn't know he possessed, Livingston's increasingly anguished perf reps the pic's heart and soul.

Newcomer Thuy Nguyen, only 14 during production, holds her own with natural aplomb. Penn and Kier provide dependably pungent support, though French star Virginie Ledoyen is underutilized in a sparse part that requires her to pop up at key moments to recite the heartbreakingly bleak statistics of child prostitution in the region.

Nevertheless, credit debuting helmer Guy Moshe for not only marshaling these disparate acting styles into a cohesive whole, but in laying out the fundamental contradictions of relief efforts -- to save Holly, Patrick must buy her, thus supporting the bad guys -- in a film that never stoops to sensationalism or skin to make its heartfelt points.

Tech package is handsome, led by Yaron Orbach's crisp widescreen lensing and Ton-that Tiet's atmospheric score. Co-producer and co-writer Guy Jacobson is a New York lawyer who formed the K11 Project, a charitable foundation, after being propositioned by young girls during a 2002 trip to Phnom Penh. Pic is the first of three on their announced slate, to be followed by docus "The Virgin Harvest," on the issue of child trafficking, and "The K11 Journey," chronicling the filmmakers' adventures. Per Moshe, Penn completed last ADR work six months prior to his January 2006 death.

Camera (color, widescreen), Yaron Orbach; editor, Isabela Monteiro de Castro; music, Ton-that Tiet; production designer, Gabriel Higgins; art director, Ken Larson; costume designer, Rotem Noyfeld; sound (Dolby Digital), Stephen Tibbo; sound designer, Joe Milner; associate producers, Jenni Trang Le, Daniel Kedem, Svet Batten; assistant director, Joel Nishimine. Reviewed at Edinburgh Film Festival (Rosebud), Aug. 16, 2006. (Also in Montreal World Film Festival.) Running time: 114 MIN.

Andy said... reviews HOLLY from the showing at the Edinburgh Film Festival this month::

Thank God for global warming! This year, the usually miserable Scottish summers have been replaced by gloriously sunny days, making Edinburgh's festivals more of a delight to visit than usual. In this heat, there's nothing better than standing around with an ice cream, watching a street show that claims to perform the Evil Dead trilogy in 5 minutes, using only one actor. Despite this, I found my movie loving instincts drawing me towards the cinema, away from the warmth of the sun, and into the dark, cool halls of the multiplex.

This is this film festival's 60th year, and it's certainly a big one. Boasting guests like Kevin Smith, John Hurt, and Sigourney Weaver, and showcasing films like Little Miss Sunshine, Neo Ned and The Oh In Ohio, the two week festival is packed with new films, director showcases and retrospectives. Yesterday, however, I had the honour of seeing a film I had heard nothing about previously, Holly.

This was the world premiere, meaning I got to walk the red carpet, and hang around in this little room with free alcohol, while rubbing shoulders with people I didn't recognise, but looked important because they had little badges hanging round their necks. Eventually we were granted access to the screen, and I secured my seat about half way back, dead centre. After 15 minutes of introducing the people with badges as producers and the director, the film started.

Thuy Nguyen has her first starring role, as the titular Holly, a 12-year-old Vietnamese girl who has been sold by her poverty-stricken family to a brothel in Cambodia. When Patrick (Ron Livingstone) encounters Holly when his motorcycle breaks down in the red light district of the village, he decides to help her to safety, and get her out of the sickening world of child prostitution.

Patrick's mission takes him across Cambodia in search of Holly, where beautiful scenery is forced to take a back seat to the sordid business that goes on with no one willing or able to stop it. With what is a very arresting subject, the film draws you in and then horrifies you with the startling reality of the situation.

The acting in this film is just amazing. For such a young girl (I believe she's 14) Thuy shows incredible range and maturity, while portraying a young girl trying to find her innocence in a deeply disturbing world. Ron Livingston is equally great as Patrick, a man used to flying solo, but now has this young girl to take care of, because his heart's been opened to her. This is also one of the last films that Chris Penn worked on before his death. He plays Freddie, a dealer of stolen historical artifacts. It's almost a cameo appearance for Penn, but it's another great performance in this important film.

Holly was announced as Guy Moshe's directorial debut, but IMDB shows a film called ?! released in 2002. It doesn't matter either way, as Moshe's work has you locked into the film from scene one. The only thing I can really fault this film on is that the friendship between Patrick and Holly seems, to me anyway, to develop too fast, and maybe adding ten/fifteen minutes to the length of the film (coming in just short of two hours) would have seen this right.

I won't spoil the ending of the film, but you can tell from half way through there's not going to be 'a happy ending', but as Virginie Ledoyen's character Marie says, "Any ending which isn't tragic, is happy".

After the film, Director Guy Moshe and producer Guy Jacobson were fielding questions, which covered stuff like how hard it was to find a girl to play Holly. They wanted a Vietnamese girl in Cambodia because it's apparently more common to find that situation there, than any other nationality. Jacobson told of his time in Cambodia and how many of his real life experiences made it into the film, including a highly disturbing scene where a group of five year olds offer Patrick "yum yum" while a man beside them explains "only yum yum, no boom boom, they too small".

This film is part of the K-11 project, a non-profit venture dedicated to raising awareness of child prostitution and international sex-trafficking.

It's a great cause and one that really needs everyone's attention. They also mention the website ,which is associated with the K-11 project, and is also trying to end this cruel, disgusting business, which is unfortunately accepted as every day life in other parts of the world.

I don't have any release dates for Holly, but I hope you will give it your support. It's a stunning film that will open your eyes to this other culture, and desperatley need to be seen.