Thursday, September 20, 2007


The Jammed

director: Dee McLachlan

country: Australia

release: 20.07.07

rated: 4.5/5review date: 21/09/2007

cast: Veronica Sywak, Emma Lung, Saskia Burmeister, Amanda Ma, Sun Park

review by marc fennell

You’re in a new city. You don’t speak the language. You don’t have your passport. You’re a prisoner. Welcome to Australia. This happens to at least 500 girls every year, or at least that’s according to The Jammed an aussie thriller about three sex slave brought into Melbourne, and the ordinary office-girl who’s somehow roped into finding them…The Jammed is the work of a Melbourne filmmaker Dee McLachlan and she based the film on actual court-transcripts. It’s pretty amazing that we’re even getting to see this movie on the big screen. It was made independently and for one reason or another none of the film distribution companies wanted to release it. But about a month or so ago, word of mouth started to get around about this movie that was supposedly the “Best Australian film of the Year” So is it really that good?Well, I'm not quite prepared to call it the best film of the year. But its a bloody powerful movie. The Jammed is an incredibly visceral movie experience. Right from the opening frame you get this tangible sense of fear. The way they’ve captured the night time streets of Melbourne make it feel like a prison made out of shadows. There are these clinical scenes of the girls being interviewed by government officials is mixed with the sound of them essentially being raped. Its as much a sensory experience as it is an emotional one. And then there are the performances. Emma Lung, Saskia Burmeister are the particular standouts. There are scenes in the movie where the camera catches their face. And you don’t so much see their fear but feel it creeping up your spine. I know I’m gushing. Whilst I do think that it is an excellent film, The Jammed is a bit rough around the edges, certain bits off dialogue and shots don’t always work, and the plot does borrow a lot of clich├ęs from thriller movies. The Jammed will be showing around the country all over the next few months, if ya wanna find out where, check out And if it aint showing near you, seriously call your cinema, and then make sure you tell us what you think below:

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Click to enlarge...


Fearless Filmmaker
THE JAMMED director DEE McLACHLAN by Mandy Kohler

LIKE A house of dog-eared cards, the canon of movies that deal in high profile causes builds slowly and carefully. One can’t help but feel that a stiff breeze of conservative bluster and the whole thing could collapse - after all, are we really that receptive to being told just what a holy mess we’ve made?
Against the odds, Dee McLachlan’s new film The Jammed answers in the affirmative, highlighting a shocking humanitarian crisis and a public who want to know. It’s this curiosity for the truth and a questioning nature that inspired McLachlan to make a film about sex-trafficking in Australia. “It’s inspired by actual events and court transcripts,” McLachlan says in a heavy South African accent. “I had seen an article in the paper here on page seven or eight and I thought, ‘Well this should actually be on page one’. It was about a case in an upper-class suburb; a guy had locked up 20 girls in a hotel and escorted them to the brothel every day. That’s what initiated me into writing the script.”The film follows Ashley Hudson (Veronica Sywak), an ordinary Australian woman who agrees to help find a missing Chinese girl and gets caught up in the underbelly of the Melbourne sex-trafficking trade. Through her eyes we see a side of Australia rarely seen, heard or talked about. Deciding that the issue was too important to wait the seven years it averages an Australian film to get off the ground, McLachlan circumvented the usual channels. “I’d written the script fairly quickly,” she recounts, “and I’d tried to get the film through funding bodies but it can take several years. I thought because this story is relevant, it should be told now. I thought ‘I’m going to fast track the process: I’m just going to make it with whatever money I can raise’.”And so, she did. With the help of a dedicated cast including talents Emma Lung, Saskia Burmeister and Sywak, McLachlan pulled her resources together and filmed The Jammed on high-definition video. But even when she had a completed film ready to go, McLachlan had trouble finding a distributor and The Jammed was slotted for a DVD release after a one-week run at Melbourne’s Nova Cinema. “Distributors were saying ‘Yeah, look, we love the movie, it’s just not going to play. It’s not going to make any money’,” McLachlan explains, “They often commit themselves at script stage so whether the film is good or bad, they’ve committed themselves. When they look at completed films they’ve got an advantage on seeing whether the film could do well or not, but there’s not the commitment behind it. They just thought maybe it’s a bit too dark and maybe people aren’t going to engage with the film.” After the influential duo of Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton gave The Jammed glowing reviews on At The Movies, not only did they actually agree on something for once, but they also launched McLachlan on a rollercoaster promotional tour when the film was picked up by Dendy. “It’s been amazing,” she says. “Audiences in Melbourne broke records for the opening week of an Australian film. It just shows that people do want to engage. If you said five years ago there was going to a film by a losing politician lecturing on carbon emissions, everyone would have laughed at you and now it’s an Oscar-winning hit movie!”It’s doubtful that the losing politician in question had to compromise on budget, as McLachlan did, but they obviously share a code of practice that should excite emerging filmmakers. “Filmmaking has become more of a committee process in many countries,” McLachlan says. “With digital filmmaking, I think it could swing back where people have a voice to get their story out and not a story that’s diluted by influences whether that be distributors, funding, investors, or sponsors. There are a lot of influences that can change a story.”

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Come along tonight to our opening in Adelaide tonight with Jammed star, Veronica Sywak, click on flyer to enlarge details

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Audience support saved The Jammed. Writer/director, Dee McLachlan, speaks again to Jim Schembri.

IN 25 words or less, please review your experience with this film since its release.
It has been extraordinary and, in many ways, far beyond my expectations. It's been a little bit like a roller-coaster.
Before the film took hold of audiences, when it was scheduled for a 10-day screening at the Nova before coming out on DVD, what were its prospects?
At that time, the DVD was looming three weeks away, so we thought it was quite a feat just getting it onto one screen. We'd been through so many knockbacks we were delighted that we even got a DVD release.
So what's the story now?
The DVD release has been put back and the film's success has empowered us as filmmakers to engage and build a relationship with the audience. It's quite exciting to be part of the organic process of getting the film to an audience.
The buzz for the film began when David Stratton saw it at the Brisbane film festival the week before release and was so impressed he rejigged At the Movies to include it. Then The Age's review came out the day of release. Then what happened?
The next morning, distributors and exhibitors were calling, then your EG article came out, then it just turned into chaos. We moved the DVD release back, then we literally planned the national release in about two days. Normally, it would take a distributor three months.
What was it like taking calls from people who had initially turned you down?
Let me put this the right way. In some ways it just felt like: "OK, now we're back in business." I'm not quite answering your question.
Let me put words in your mouth. Was there a sense of: "Look who's talking now?" It's OK to gloat a little bit.
Without gloating, it brings back your confidence and your instincts as a filmmaker. That's the most important thing, that it actually brought back some kind of self-confidence that I actually did make certain good decisions in making the film. There is a sense of validation as a filmmaker that you haven't wasted your time.
What was the reaction to the film like that first week?
I was stunned. People were calling me up saying there were no seats available, it was a full house. I've never heard of that. People were getting turned away and had to wait two or three sessions before they could get in to see the movie. It was absolutely mind-blasting that people were so engaged.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007



When you've had your arm twisted to pick up a stranger from the airport, you don't expect to end up in Melbourne's seedy underworld. Ashley reluctantly offers to help an Asian woman search for her missing daughter. It emerges that the daughter maybe a victim of the sex slave trade, a world that Ashley knows little about.

Dee McLachlan
Running Time:
89 mins
Emma Lung, Veronica Sywak, Saskia Burmeister
Movie Review
Rating: 4 stars

Vicky Roach
THIS taut Australian thriller about the sex slave trade has generated an almost unprecedented level of hype.Initially slated for a oneoff Sydney screening, The Jammed now has a wider theatrical release on the back of rave reviews by ABC TV and a Melbourne critic.The enthusiastic critical response to the film is thoroughly deserved. Dee McLachlan's deft direction of her own well-crafted screenplay is supported by strong performances from a solid young cast.Veronica Sywak deserves special mention for the breakout role of Ashley Hudson, an ordinary woman who finds herself in an extraordinary situation.Through a thoroughly convincing group of circumstances, the newly single office worker finds herself adopted by a Chinese mother (Amanda Ma) who has come to Melbourne to lookfor her missing daughter. The search for Rubi (Sun Park), who may or may not want to be found, leads Ashley deeper and deeper into Melbourne's underworld, a place she didn't even know existed.It's a clever narrative device.Like Ashley, most Australians imagine crimes like human trafficking occur only in third world countries. Her journey is an eye-opener, rupturing the familiar fabric of our society.The film, which was inspired by newspaper articles and court transcripts, also shows how relatively simple it is to enslave sex workers by retaining their passports and keeping their money. An illegal immigrant, whose only other option is a detention centre, is hardly going to go to the police.If I have one criticism of the film, it's the casting of Emma Lung in the lead role of Crystal.The actress does a good job in terms of an accent and postural transformation, but it's still difficult to buy her as a Chinese immigrant, even after the screenplay's explanation that she has an English father. The fact that Lung is so obviously acting, with a capital "A", jars with the film's otherwise realistic tone.Saskia Burmeister, however, is completely credible as her Russian counterpart.A standout example of the can-do school of filmmaking.


Australian cinema’s surprise success story of 2007 is The Jammed (now playing in cinemas), a hard-hitting expose on illegal prostitution in Melbourne. Starring Veronica Sywak, who campaigned relentlessly to get it released, The Jammed was given the cold shoulder by the local film industry until it eventually found a national audience. Sywak talks to Luke Buckmaster about her incredible experiences on and off the set.
In the late 90's Melbourne entrepreneur Gary Glazner ran two pubs well known for strip shows and scantily clad women. His reputation however belonged to a more insidious mantle: Glazner was also known as one of the biggest traffickers of women in the city. Glazner brought at least twenty Thai women into Australia; they lived in premises provided by him and were forced to work as prostitutes at various spots in CBD. He kept their passports, controlled their movements and earned around $1 million from their labour. But when police finally caught up with Glazner he wasn't charged with anything as serious as trafficking or false imprisonment, instead, Melbourne's number one sex slave operator went to trail charged with five counts of being an unlicensed service provider and two counts of living partly off the earnings of prostitution. In December 2001 Glazner was issued an eighteen month fully suspended sentence and a fine of $33,000.
Fast forward five years and Veronica Sywak is door knocking in the CBD. She is coasting between brothels, quizzing prostitutes about their thoughts and experiences in the sex industry - how do they get through their days? What do they think about when they're with their clients? What do they know about human trafficking and the sex slave trade? Sywak is researching for her new role in a controversial, culture-exposing film called The Jammed. At one stage the screenplay was so intense she literally threw it down in disgust; it is a hard-hitting expose on the grimy culture of illegal prostitution.
"The simple reason why human traffic has proliferated in this country," says Sywak, "is basic commerce - supply and demand. A million dollars a week is made from the work of these women. Someone is cashing out. Someone is putting their AMEX down. Someone is pulling hundred dollar bills from their wallet."
A few years after Gary Glazner's trial, filmmaker Dee McLachlan studied the court transcripts and began writing The Jammed. Sywak plays Ashley, a career woman who reluctantly assists Chinese visitor Sunee (Amanda Ma) in the search for her missing daughter. Rubi (Sun Park) is trapped in exactly the kinds of circumstance Glazner took advantage of. Like her colleagues Vanya (Saskia Burmeister) and Crystal (Emma Lung) Rubi is caught in an inextricable rut of prostitution and illegal citizenship. If she goes to the police, she gets deported. If she stays in Australia, she waves the right to her body. Sywak believes the sex slave industry is not just proliferating in Australia, but also operating right in front of our eyes.
"It's so easy to spot these places," she says. "If you look in sex directories at the back of local papers, you can tell illegal brothels where there are trafficked girls. They say 'new girls every week, all Asian,' blah blah blah. It's just so obvious."
"The Jammed is a G rated version of what is happening. There was a brothel in Port Melbourne with underage boys and girls from South East Asia. Really scary stuff, and it's happening in our most affluent suburbs."

To read the full interview head over to:


The Jammed is Aussie ‘Movie of the Year’!

Australian movie ‘The Jammed’ has proved an instant box office smash hit following its release last week and nomination as “the Australian Movie of the Year” by the critics.
The film nearly didn’t see light of day in a movie house but for the grit and determination of Epping’s John L Simpson of fledgling Titan View distribution company.
John L Simpson had to take a second mortgage on his family home to raise money to fund the screening of the newly acclaimed masterpiece of storyline, acting and direction.
Overnight the film has gained international attention and demand following rave reviews including four and a half star ratings from Melbourne’s The Age newspaper’s Jim Schembri and now the same from The Sydney Morning Herald film critic.
ABC TV’s David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz also acclaimed it best Australian film of the year with a four star rating.
The Jammed is a dramatic social thriller about human trafficking, illegal prostitution and government deportation inspired by actual events and court transcripts.
The film is currently screening at The Palace Verona Paddington and The Palace Norton Street and The Hayden Orpheum Cremorne.

Sunday, September 2, 2007



89 minutes
August 30

...tough, moving and eye opening...
Initially headed direct to DVD, a glowing and rallying review on the ABC’s influential At The Movies has resulted in debut writer/director Dee McLachlan’s dramatic thriller The Jammed getting snatched up for a quick cinematic run. Thankfully, the film is gutsy and topical enough to stand on its own, and should rate as more than just a little film with an interesting back story.Through the eyes of everyday paper-pusher Ashley Hudson (an impressively natural and unaffected turn from Veronica Sywak), we are drawn into the ugly, brutal, shadowy world of people smuggling and sex trafficking in Melbourne. Though essentially an innocent bystander, Ashley soon finds herself an unlikely participant in the lives of three young women – Crystal (Emma Lung), Vanya (Saskia Burmeister) and Rubi (Sun Park) – who have been sold as sex slaves, and ply their trade in a seedy brothel owned by the outwardly respectable Vic Glassman (Andrew S. Gilbert). Taut and consistently gripping, The Jammed truly succeeds when it sticks to the personal side of the story. The plot strand involving Crystal, Vanya and Rubi is so loaded with emotion that it comes through with ravaging force. Their horrific plight and the fact that it’s happening in our backyard adds great weight to the film, while the powerful performances of the three actresses hammer things home to great effect. The framing story involving Ashley is not quite as impressive, despite Sywak’s strong work. Her coincidental involvement is never quite plausible, and the thriller-style elements that she drags into proceedings largely detract from the very personal story that is at the heart of this tough, moving and eye opening film.
-Erin Free


"The Jammed" - Australian Thriller Reveals A Dark Underbelly In Human Trafficking

- Megan Yarrow

One of the Australian films that screened at this year's Brisbane International Film Festival is 'The Jammed', a story set amidst the human trafficking and illegal prostitution that is taking place in our cities

The film begins as Crystal (Emma Lung), a young Indonesian girl, is questioned by immigration officials and about to be sent to a detention centre. It then shifts back three weeks, as insurance clerk Ashley Hudson (Veronica Sywak) is drawn into Melbourne's sinister underworld when she reluctantly agrees to help a Thai woman Sunee (Amanda Ma) find her daughter Rubi (Sun Park).

Speaking at the BIFF screening of 'The Jammed', writer and director Dee McLachlan said that her film presents a "huge cultural calamity" currently taking place in Australia. "This is about displaced people," she said, referring to the victims of human trafficking - 30% of whom have no idea they will be working as prostitutes.

"They work for nothing, and then get deported," she said. Ms McLachlan said that the inspiration for 'The Jammed' came from a series of court cases, in particular the case of Gary Glasner who in the late 1990s, was found guilty of violations of the Victorian Prostitution Control Act (the federal slavery and sexual servitude legislation had not been introduced at that stage). Glazner received a penalty of 18 months imprisonment (fully suspended for two years) and a $31,000 fine.

According to Ms McLachlan, one criticism of the film, put to her by a human rights advocate was that the girls should have been shown working in a legal brothel, because in reality, that's where they are. Actress Veronica Sywak (who had initially auditioned for the role of Vanya - played by Saskia Burmesiter) also spoke at the screening. Of her role as Ashley, Ms Sywak said she had to "plumb the depths of human debauchery and sadness." "It was an incredibly emotionally charged set," she said. Ms McLachlan said that such was the potency of the subject matter, on difficult days the assistance of a "talent alignment" person was sought for counselling purposes.

“The Jammed' is a powerful piece of cinema that delves into Australia's dark underbelly - a confronting and unpleasant place - that like Ashley Hudson, many of us would prefer to turn our back on. It was interesting to see Debra Lawrence (Pippa from 'Home & Away') in the role of the heartless DIMIA Case Officer, and Kate Atkinson ('Seachange's' Constable Karen Miller) as Ashley's detached, middle class friend Gabi.

'The Jammed' screens exclusively in Brisbane at the Dendy from August 30.