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BUOYANCY

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WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY RODD RATHJEN

Based upon actual accounts, BUOYANCY tells a dramatic story of modern-day slavery in the South China Sea: Chakra, a 14-year-old Cambodian boy — seeking to escape the deprivation and arduous work on his family’s rice farm — runs off to Thailand to take a job at a Bangkok factory. But he soon finds himself sold to a Thai fishing boat captain to work in bondage: facing days of endless work, enduring sadistic treatment, and witnessing the deaths of fellow workers for minor transgressions. Nonprofessional actor Sarm Heng is indelible as Chakra, amid a cast that includes survivors of such vessels. “Taut and urgent. Tracks with pounding single-mindedness the horror of human trafficking.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety.

AUSTRALIA    2020    92 MINS.    IN KHMER AND THAI WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES    KINO LORBER

Reviews

“Critic’s Pick… (A) sobering, moving drama…a vivid fiction about the real catastrophe of contemporary slavery…”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Read the full review.

“Impressive. An archetypal but gripping and brutal debut. Australia’s submission in the Oscars’ International Feature category. That Rathjen was inspired by the accounts of real-life survivors [of enslavement in the Thai fishing industry] gives the film its raw authenticity, forceful pacing and moral clarity. Taut and urgent.”
– Jessica Kiang, Variety

“One of the most compelling and harrowing dramas of the past year.”
– James Croot, Stuff (New Zealand)

“This brutal, powerful drama… diving deep into dark material yet always remaining afloat, it’s a potent debut from Australian filmmaker Rodd Rathjen.  As an account of exploited immigrants, desperate for a better life, this is a highly topical film. Grimly stirring… it spins a terse, absorbing coming-of-age narrative.  In his first film role, Heng proes a captivating lead. There’s a rawness to his performance that ranges beyond his non-professional status -- a mix of perseverance and fragility that feels steeped in truth, yet fine-tuned to the movie’s story. Giving the feature a grey yet still scenic sheen... every frame finds the balance between bleakness and beauty.”
– Sarah Ward, Screen Daily

“A shocking adventure drama, a stomach-tightening actioner with overtones of social horror. Writer-director Rodd Rathjen brings both drama and empathy to the tale of a rebellious 14-year-old.. (who) finds himself a prisoner aboard a slave ship where human life is worth less than a sardine. Grippingly shot and paced. Casting plays a big role and it is impressive. (Thanawut) Kasro... is razor-sharp and scary as the trawler’s captain.”
– Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

Trailer