Monday, March 1, 2010

Movies About Modern Day Slavery

A couple days ago I reviewed the book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery on my book blog, The Opening Lines.  The book deals with the issue of modern day slavery, not just here in the United States, but all over the world.

Most people do not realize that more people are in slavery right now, than at any other point in history.  Personally, I feel that this is just unacceptable, and needs to be stopped.  

I would urge everyone to check out groups like, Free the Slaves.

In talking about all the information that I have come across in the past few months, Missy and I started to recall the movies we have seen that deal with the issue of human trafficking.  

Honestly, I think just about all of the movies have been about the trafficking of women for sexual slavery, but there men, women and children are being kept for more than that.  It seems like lately I come across at least one news article a week dealing with laborers being kept in indentured servitude here in the states by scammers intent on collecting wages through employment rings.  

But, here is a brief rundown of movies dealing with modern day slavery that you can check out.  If Amazon has the movie available in Video on Demand, I will include a link for that.  


Ron Livingston delivers a powerful breakout performance as a "comfortably numb" American, immersed in a dangerous and shocking culture of corruption, slavery and deceit. Disgusted and inspired, he finds true meaning in his life as he frantically searches through both the beautiful and sordid faces of Cambodia, risking everything in a desperate attempt to save the life of one girl, Holly... before it's too late. (from Amazon)

HollyTrailer on YouTube 

I thought Holly was okay, a little too predictable, but definitely a good film on the trafficking that takes place in the more remote areas of the world.  After I watched this there was an article in Marie Claire, Diary of an Escaped Sex Slave, that dealt with another young woman who went through some horrific stuff as a child. 

Blind Mountain
Blind Mountain
In rural early 90's China, Bai (Lu Huang), a pretty and enterprising college student, travels to a remote, mist shrouded mountain village in the company of a pair of affable strangers. But what Bai thought was an expedition to gather herbs for resale turns into a "true crime shocker" (NY Times) when her fellow travelers sell her into slavery. (From Amazon)

There are only two YouTube trailers posted, the official one isn't translated into English though and the second one gives away the ending.  I actually watched this movie using Video on Demand from Amazon and the quality was very good-- the translation is in English. 

I really liked this film, but parts of it are really hard to watch.  I totally felt for this girls situation, but there were some duh moments. I also think, had the director been allowed full creative rights, it would have been perfect.  

Trade, a controversial drama that aims to enlighten viewers to the horrors of the international sex slave trade, functions in a somewhat documentary mode due to its purposefully repellent nature.  Trade opens in Mexico City where a tourist, Weronika, is kidnapped right before a thirteen year-old Mexican girl, Adriana is yanked off her bike and pushed into a black Mercedes. Quickly, the two young women meet in various squalid conditions, alternating turns of abuse and rape with sleazy men who prepare them for international sale over the Internet. 
Trade Trailer on YouTube

Missy and I actually waited a long time for this film to be released, and when it finally was we had a mixture of opinions.  I think everyone knows about the missing women in Juarez, because honestly, you would have to be in a cave not to have heard about what is going on in Mexico.  

I know there were a few more films released about the same time as Trade, that I never did get to watch (including Backyard), but Trade is a good place to start.  The only thing I did not like about this film was that some of the scenes were a little overdone, and there were points where I thought the film and story were never going to end. 

Taken (Single-Disc Extended Edition) 
Prepare to get Taken for the ride of your life! “Liam Neeson is an unstoppable force” (Premiere) in this action-packed international thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. When his estranged teenage daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped in Paris, a former spy (Neeson) sets out to find her at any cost. Relying on his special skills, he tracks down the ruthless gang that abducted her and launches a one-man war to bring them to justice and rescue his daughter.  (From Amazon)

Taken Trailer on YouTube

I have to say, this film was the most exciting of all the films in this list. Definitely a made for Hollywood flick about human trafficking.  The main character in this film was so different from all the other characters I have read about or watched in films, but yet she found herself in the same position which left you with the scary thought that it really can happen to everyone.  


So, those are all the films that I can recall at the moment. I have the feeling I am leaving one out, but it might be a film about slavery, but not modern day slavery that is coming to mind. 

Has anyone else viewed any of these films?  What did you think of them? 


  1. I haven't seen any of the movies, but I've known about human trafficking for quite some time. Something definitely needs to be done. Unfortunately there are Western countries who also reap benefits from this ugly traffic, so movement on it will be slow. I always get sick to my stomach when people enthuse about how open and non-judgmental Amsterdam is about sex and drugs; but that city is the European center for trafficked women and girls, mostly from Southeast Asia. There's actually an organized boycott against Amsterdam as a tourist stop because of this.

    Amsterdam isn't alone in this, although they're the most obvious; there are other cities in Europe who have thriving sex industries based on enslaved women. This is why it's so hard to get anything done about it; too many "respectable" business moguls are profiting from it.

  2. The only one I have seen is Taken. I really feel at a loss to add anything to the discussion, need to spend more time on Free the Slaves to learn.

  3. Human trafficking never ceases to leave me feeling horrible. It happens everywhere, in both rich nations and poor. It's just horrible.

    The only movie from the list I've seen is Taken. There are some made for TV movies dealing with it, as well.

    I think SVU also had an episode or two about it.