A new Australian film gets rave reviews from just every film critic who sees it, including two rare four star reviews on The Movie Show, from two of the toughest critics in the land. Reviews claims it deals honestly, and dramatically, with its controversial subject matter, with an excellent script and some of the best performances seen in recent Australian films. It's described as a brilliant, taut thriller, and stars three of Australia's best up-and-coming young actors.
But every Australian film distributor turns down the producers, it is rejected by the Melbourne film festival, even though Melbourne is virtually a character in the movie, and key government funding bodies refuse to kick in even minimal amounts of money to help the producers finish the film and get it ready for distribution.
The film is called The Jammed and last week it was heading straight to DVD.
So why has this film been crushed at almost every turn and kept out of Australian cinemas?
Perhaps it might have something to do with the subject matter it dares to take on :
The sex slave trade and the criminal gangs who kidnap teenage girls to be sold into prostitution.
You'd think film distributors would be falling over themselves to get their hands on a well-made film about such a controversial subject. Controversy generates media coverage, which helps to generate "vibe" and ticket sales.
Hundreds of teenage girls and young women are allegedly smuggled in and out of Australia every year to fill brothels and escort agencies. The worldwide trade, so rarely reported on in any deep, impactful way, sees the lives of thousands of children and young people destroyed every year :
According to the United Nations, Australian is the tenth main destination for victims of trafficking; this kind of fact makes The Jammed all the more disturbing...Director Dee McLachlan said she was inspired to make The Jammed when read a few years ago about police raids on brothels uncovering women who were being kept as slaves, sex slaves, and traded internationally. Didn't we outlaw slavery almost a century ago?
McLachlan went to the trouble of thoroughly researching her film, The Jammed, from court transcripts, and interviews, and pulls together a cast and crew dedicated to getting the movie made on a low budget, and not one distributor, big or small, or most of the plethora of film development funding bodies, dishing out taxpayers money, are interested in helping?
Nobody's trying to cover up anything here, are they? Because that's exactly what it sounds like.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that one of the key sex slave traders in the movie is not some cliched backstreet grubby thug, but a middle class professional, married with children, with a wife who runs an inner city Melbourne gallery.
Too close to home for some people perhaps?
The good news is that The Jammed is now getting interest from distributors when it was set to go straight to DVD :
Of course, if The Jammed goes on to win awards at international film festivals, and picks up a few at the AFIs, many of those very same distributors and funding body types will be in the media ranting about how fantastic the film is and how they always knew it would do so well.
The film's executive producer, Andrea Buck, described the superlative reviews as "way better than we could have expected - it felt life-changing. We've dealt for so long with lukewarm, negative responses. To have someone say 'I love your movie' with such passion and conviction is overwhelming."
None of this seemed possible a few days ago, when the film's producers were preparing for last night's low-key premiere at an independent cinema in Melbourne. They secured a modest two-week season - designed to promote the release of a DVD on September 5 - by agreeing to pay the cinema's marketing costs and sharing any profits.
The story of a Chinese mother searching for her missing daughter, it features a cast of up-and-coming young actors including Sydney's Emma Lung, Saskia Burmeister and Sun Park.
Regardless, it's good to see such a daring, challenging film looking more likely to get a cinema release sometime soon.
The Jammed Website (Trailer Online)
The Jammed Review From The Movie Show
Interview With Director Dee McLachlan
McLachlan : Why Isn't News About Australia's Prostitution Slave Trade On Page One?