Genre: Drama. Dir: Rodd Rathjen. Country: Australia / Cambodia. English subtitles.
Inspired by the real-life plight of workers sold into Southeast Asia’s fishing industry and featuring a powerful performance from its first-time star, this gripping high seas drama is Australia’s Oscar contender for Best International Feature in 2020.
Tired of toiling in the rice fields, 14-year-old Chakra (a magnetic Sarm Heng) leaves Cambodia in search of a Bangkok factory job. After paying smugglers to ferry him over the border, the boy is instead traded to a seafood trawler where violence and murder are a routine occurrence, all under the watch of ruthless and sadistic captain Rom Ran (Thanawut Kasro).
Making his feature debut after several shorts, director Rodd Rathjen combines an edge-of-your-seat thriller with the stark reality of the modern-day slave trade. Building tension until it’s ready to snap, the resulting film is entertaining from the first frame to the last while always remaining sensitive to the subject matter.
“A terse minimalist thriller … Heng’s largely wordless central performance is captivating.” – Sight & Sound