Aya was a slave. At the age of 16, the young Cambodian peasant was sold to work as a maid in Malaysia, where she was exploited and beaten during two years without receiving any salary. Now that she has returned to her village just as poor as when she left, what is left of her humanity?
The Storm Makers traces modern-day slavery in Cambodia, by uncovering the fate of this young woman and following, in parallel, the daily lives of two human traffickers, a local recruiter and the head of a trafficking network. Cambodians call them « Mey Kechol »: The Storm Makers.
From the impoverished remote villages to the bustling urban centre of Phnom Penh, the film reveals a unique perspective on the exploitation of Cambodia’s rural population and questions what is the price of a life in a country experiencing uninhibited economic development.
“I should have died over there”, says 20-year-old Aya. At the age of 16, Aya was sold to work as a maid in Malaysia, where she was exploited and beaten during two years without receiving any salary. Now that she has returned to Cambodia just as poor as when she left, what is left of her humanity? What are her plans for the future, doing odd jobs and surviving on with one dollar a day, while she has to cope alone with the violence of two years of enslavements?
Pou Houy owns a recruitment agency based in Phnom Penh, and claims to have sold more than 500 girls. He has no shame in admitting that he never cared about what happened to them and that he’s only interested in profit. Although Pou Houy’s company stands accused by local media to participate in the human trafficking business in Cambodia, he has never been investigated by the police. He continues to recruit young, poor and rural peasants to migrate abroad.
Pou Houy also recruits new Mey Kechol, extending his network in to the remote rural areas. Ming Dy, 50, sold her own daughter to Pou Houy, and has brought him more girls from her village. She justifies this by claiming that it is the only way to pay back her debts…
Filming from the perspective of traffickers
“I wanted to understand what kind of persons the traffickers were. My purpose was neither to judge them nor to reduce their responsibility. I wanted to focus on the personal reasons that led them to sell human beings. I wanted to give the audience the opportunity to delve into traffickers’ daily lives. Therefore I filmed them face to face, with the idea that the more we get into their minds, the more we can understand their motives and actions. »
Filming the victims in the mirror of their traffickers
« I wanted to free the young migrants of their status of merchandise, to which they have been reduced by the traffickers, giving them the possibility to speak out and tell their own stories in details. […] I want migrants like Aya to feel free in front of the camera, allowing words to serve as a therapy and an escape from the past: Speaking to cure and to free themselves. »
Guillaume Suon is a French-Cambodian filmmaker, who has focused his first documentary films on Cambodia’s history and contemporary society.
Trained by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Rithy Panh, Guillaume Suon is an alumnus of the Berlinale Talent Campus and a fellow of the Sundance Institute and the IDFAcademy.
The Last Refuge (2013, 65′)
- Aung San Suu Kyi Award for ASEAN Films, HRHDIFF 2013
- Best SEA Documentary Award, Freedom Film Fest 2014
Official selections: Amiens International Film Festival 2013, FIFDH 2014
Red Wedding (2012, 58′)
- Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary, IDFA 2012 ; Golden Award, Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival 2013 ; Jury Prize, Gdansk DocFilm Festival 2013 ; Special Jury Prize, HRHDIFF 2013 ; Best SEA Human Rights Film Award, Freedom Film Fest 2013
- Official selections: RIDM 2013, DocLisboa 2013, FIFDH 2013, Mumbai Film Festival 2013…
About My Father (2010, 52′)
- Broadcast on TV5 Monde
- Jury Prize, FEMI 2011 ; Jury Prize, FICIP 2013 ; Runner-up, World TV Awards 2011
- Official selections: FIPA 2010, Amiens International Film Festival 2010, Doc in Tunis 2011…
- World Cinema Delegation, Cannes Festival 2010
Mecenat Award for Best Asian Documentary Film, Busan International Film Festival 2014
Full Frame Inspiration Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2015
Best Feature Film, Milan Festival of African, Asian and Latin American Cinema 2015
Special Mention Award, Salaya International Documentary Film Festival 2015
2-11 Oct 2014 – Busan International Film Festival (Busan, South Korea)
18-29 Nov 2014 – IDFA (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
27 Nov – 3 Dec 2014 – Cinemondo Villa Medici (Roma, Italy)
10-15 Feb 2015 – Human Rights Human Wrongs Festival (Oslo, Norway)
10-17 Feb 2015 – Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema (Vesoul, France)
26 Feb – 5 Mar 2015 – FrauenFilmTage (Vienna, Austria)
27 Feb – 8 Mar 2015 – FIFDH (Geneva, Switzerland)
5 Mar 2015 – Les Jeudis du FIFDH (Paris, France)
13-22 Mar 2015 – Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (Thessaloniki, Greece)
20-28 Mar 2015 – Movies That Matter Film Festival (The Hague, Netherlands)
20-28 Mar 2015 – Millenium International Documentary Film Festival (Brussels, Belgium)
21-28 Mar 2015 – Salaya International Documentary Film Festival (Salaya, Thailand)
9-12 Apr 2015 – Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (Durham, NC, United States)
17-24 Apr 2015 – San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival (San Sebastian, Spain)
4-10 May 2015 – Festival del Cinema Africano, d’Asia e America Latina (Milano, Italy)
7-17 May 2015 – DOK.fest (Munich, Germany)
8-17 May 2015 – Docs Against Gravity Film Festival (Warsow, Poland)
13-16 May 2015 – Festival international du film documentaire en Cévennes (France)
5-10 Jun 2015 – Sheffield Doc/Fest (Great Britain)
8-14 Jun 2015 – Granada Cines del Sur Film Festival (Spain)
12-16 Jun 2015 – Addis International Film Festival (AIFF) (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
17-21 Jun 2015 – AFI Docs (Washington, U.S.A.)
16-24 Oct 2015 – Ânûû-rû Âboro Film Festival (New Caledonia, France)
10 February 2015 – ARTE France – La Lucarne (France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg)
12 August 2015 – Canvas – VRT (Flanders, Belgium)
14 August 2015 – Phoenix (Germany)
31 August 2015 – PBS – POV (United States)
Upcoming – DR (Denmark)
Upcoming – RSI (Switzerland)
Upcoming – Channel NewsAsia (Singapore)
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