The locally-produced and highly acclaimed film She Has A Name continues to garner awards and recognition several months after its initial release.
She Has A Name has added five Top Indie Film Awards to its growing acclaim. The Alberta-made production was recognized in the global competition with awards in the following categories – Best Feature, Best Actress (Teresa Ting); Best Cinematography, Best Sound and Best Music.
It was also nominated for Best Directors, Best Writing, and Best Editing.
The film, which is about a human trafficking incident in Thailand, also stars an international cast of actors including Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine, Hawaii Five-O), Eugenia Yuan (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sword of Destiny, Memoirs of A Geisha) and Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption, Ally McBeal).
Rounding out the cast in the lead roles are Vancouver-based actor Giovanni Mocibob, New York’s Teresa Ting and Singapore’s Vanessa Toh.
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 simply abandoned.
Ultimately about 50 people lost their lives.
That tragedy was a kind of a trigger for 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.
“It’s rewarding to see the film continue to garner attention,” says Matthew Kooman, who co-directed the film with brother Daniel Kooman from the screenplay by Andrew Kooman. “We’re excited that She Has A Name is being recognized for its performances, in the technical categories and as a story.
As mentioned, She Has A Name was produced in Red Deer, filmed in Thailand and features an international cast and crew.
“We are excited about the continued momentum and that there are audiences around the world that continue to connect with it – filmgoers and critics as well,” explained Andrew.
“I’m always excited for the film to get exposure – it’s exciting to see that the story is resonating with people,” he said.
“There were two reasons why I wrote (the screenplay) – to entertain people with a great film experience, and to bring people to come to terms with the fact that children are trafficked in our world and I wanted to do something about it.
“An award is great, but anytime that a story that I really believe matters gets exposure it’s a big win. I’m just really grateful to the creative team and all the people that helped make it happen and who believed in this – helped to make this film a reality.”
She Has A Name was released in December 2016 in select theatres globally and is currently expanding to exclusive screening engagements across North America.
Andrew also credits a hard-working team that continues to work on getting the film out there.
“Part of it is the commitment of our team to continue to pound the pavement and put the film forward, because we are truly an independent film – we are made in Alberta, made in Canada and it’s also privately funded,” he said.
“We don’t have a big studio behind us so we are really doing our best to put it in front of as many people as we can, and to have as many conversations as we can,” he said. “There’s that effort to ‘unturn’ every stone so that people can know about it. And then it’s also a powerful film that people are responding to – it’s touching people’s hearts.
“There’s also a staying power with the film because it is a story that really resonates with people.”
As to the recognition the film continues to garner, it’s a reminder of how important the cause truly is as well.
“It does re-energize us and it’s a reminder that it’s really a worthy story to continue to fight for,” he said.
“We are passionate about it – independent filmmaking isn’t for the faint of heart; you have to really believe in the project,” he added.
“For any artist who really wants their work out there, you really have to believe in it. I’m constantly thankful as well for the people of Red Deer and Central Alberta who so embraced the story and championed it.”
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