WORLD PREMIERE - Red Deer native Andrew Kooman’s script will make its silver screen debut this weekend.

Lead actors reflect on She Has A Name filming

City native Andrew Kooman’s script transformed into acclaimed movie, set to premiere this weekend

  • Nov. 30, 2016 5:29 p.m.

With native Red Deerian Andrew Kooman’s acclaimed script to hit the silver screen, the excitement is building not only nation-wide but also among those who landed the lead roles in the highly-anticipated film.

The World Premiere will take place at the Welikoklad Event Centre on Dec. 2nd at 7:30 p.m. There will also be three screenings on Dec. 3rd at 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 pm.

Besides Red Deer, the film will also be screened in Melbourne, Australia; Cape Town, South Africa; London, England and Belfast, Ireland. Screening then expands to Paris, Berlin, Ottawa and Courtenay through to Dec. 10th, which is the UN’s Human Rights Day.

For tickets, visit Twenty per cent of gross receipts will be donated to anti-trafficking organizations.

She Has A Name, which is about a human trafficking incident in Thailand, released its first poster and teaser trailer online to mark the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl just a few weeks ago.

The film focuses on an investigation into a shocking human trafficking incident in southeast Asia and explores the layers of corruption that enable the global commercial sex trade to thrive, at the expense of young girls’ and women’s futures. The story is also based on an incident in Thailand where a storage container transporting more than 100 people ran out of gas and was abandoned.

That tragedy was a kind of a trigger for the plot.

As to the plot, Jason poses as a john to build a case against a brothel trafficking girls into Bangkok. He must win the trust of a young girl forced to work as a prostitute who is known as ‘Number 18’ and convince her to risk her life to testify for the sake of justice.

”I first heard about the project from my manager when she told me a director was interested in having me audition for a film that would shoot in Thailand,” recalls Teresa Ting, the New York-based actor who plays Number 18. “At that point, I had no clue what it was about but thought what a cool opportunity it would be to work out in Thailand!

“After reading the script I knew right away it was a project I had to be a part of. I was completely drawn in by the dark yet realistic nature of the plot, and really connected with Number 18’s bold yet innocent character. I wanted to give her a voice.”

Ting added that working with directors Matt and Dan Kooman (Andrew’s brothers) was also such a humbling experience.

“The duo was an inspiration to work with,” she said. “They had me feeling like I was a part of the family since day one. Working with them hardly ever felt like work. We shared a handful of laughter and tears, and heart-warming memories I’ll never forget. I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity they gave me.”

As to the shoot itself, Ting said that being on location helped make the role itself that much more real.

“Knowing that the trafficking industry was all around us on location, the role quickly became very real for me. I felt more than obligated to bring her character to the fullest potential so as to do justice for and give a voice to the many victims trapped in the cruel industry.

“Number 18’s character was one who had gone through unimaginable hardships, and only being 15 on top of that. As a young woman myself, I found it very difficult to accept the reality of the horrid circumstances she was in.

“Her story and her role have both inspired me to live life more fully and courageously as many of the victims never will. Being a part of the project was such an empowering experience for me.”

Vancouver-based actor Giovanni Mocibob, who plays Jason, found out about the production through a roommate who had performed in a play version of She Has A Name. Reading the script, the first thing Mocibob noted was how powerful the story was in and of itself. “I thought the story was compelling, and was one that people needed to hear and one that I wanted to be a part of.

“As far as wanting to make a difference in the world, or doing the right thing, I think those are things that most of us can identify with – for the most part, we want to do well and we have those good intentions. I think that was something that I believe anyways,” he explained of one of the key ways he connected to his character. “It’s something that I already had in me.”

Born in Prince George, Mocibob eventually moved to Rosebud where he continued to hone his acting chops. Today, he calls Vancouver home.

“I remember being in church and being in this Christmas play,” he recalls of one of his very first experiences onstage. He improvised a squeaky sound of what the gate might sound like as it opened, and the audience laughed in response. “I was like, they see what I’m doing,” he said. “They see the world I’m creating, and the world that I see. I thought that was cool – I saw that you could ‘hold’ an audience – I didn’t realize that you could do that. Later on, I realized how true that really is.”

Rounding out the cast are Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine, Hawaii Five-O), Eugenia Yuan (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sword of Destiny, Memoirs of A Geisha), Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption, Ally McBeal) and Singapore’s Vanessa Toh.

Meanwhile, Mocibob said he loved working with the Koomans.

“I felt like we were working together as a team to do the best we could, and put the best story out there as possible. I felt that I could trust them, and I also felt like my voice could be heard, too. I felt like we were working in tandem – trusting each other.”

As part of the film’s distribution strategy, global anti-trafficking agencies will be distributing the film through their networks to ‘Fund Freedom.’ A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the film through the film’s web site will go directly to support the work of agencies to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking, Andrew said.

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