"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.