DEBUT - Red Deer native Andrew Kooman's play

Review: She Has A Name marks a cinematic triumph

Film makes its world debut with Red Deer premiere last week

  • Dec. 6, 2016 3:20 p.m.

Without question, bringing the profound play She Has A Name to the silver screen – in such a richly told and meaningful way – has marked a monumental achievement.

Native Red Deerian Andrew Kooman’s acclaimed script has been superbly transformed into a powerful film – fueled by some truly outstanding performances – and the remarkable direction of Kooman’s brothers Matthew and Daniel Kooman.

The World Premiere took place at the Welikoklad Event Centre on Dec. 2nd with three additional screenings the following day as well.

Besides Red Deer, the film was also be screened in Melbourne, Australia; Cape Town, South Africa; London, England and Belfast, Ireland. Screenings are also planned for Paris, Berlin, Ottawa and Courtenay through to Dec. 10th, which is the UN’s Human Rights Day. Twenty per cent of gross receipts will be donated to anti-trafficking organizations.

She Has A Name 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.

Jason (Giovanni Mocibob) 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’ (Teresa Ting) and convince her to risk her life to testify for the sake of justice.

Ting puts in a really compelling performance – she absolutely nails 18’s range of emotions from defiance, pain and resignation to despair and hopefulness.

Her growing relationship with Jason also brings about some of the film’s most moving moments – and also shows how perfectly cast these two were. It’s also tough to imagine a better actor than Mocibob to so effectively bring the character of Jason to life as well. He captures that ‘everyman’ sensibility to near perfection, but clearly there’s much more complexity to the character than that.

Time and again, Mocibob invigorates the role with an obvious understanding of his character, and the continual horror that Jason finds himself in as he comes face to face with the unimaginable reality that so many are trapped in.

Again, his scenes with Ting – where the walls are gradually coming down and they are truly connecting – are unforgettable in their simplicity and strength. Both actors absolutely shine during these raw, vulnerable moments – a testament to both of their gifts for capturing the complexities of their characters and the directors’ ability to really draw out such fine performances.

Shooting on location has also injected a gritty sense of realism to virtually every aspect of She Has A Name as well. The film has that elusive quality of helping the viewer to really imagine what it’s like in that part of the world – we can ‘feel’ it – sense it and imagine it – and that is also due to the directors’ insight and skill in bringing She Has A Name to the screen. The film has a polished, professional look to it – but it’s also retained that sense of realism – of authenticity.

Ultimately we have Andrew to thank for this challenging story. I remember being blown away by the stage production; the film takes all of that impact to higher levels. There’s no doubt audiences will leave screenings feeling challenged to seek out a way – no matter how seemingly small – that they could somehow make a difference.

Rounding out the terrific 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.

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 also go directly to support the work of agencies to rescue and restore victims of human trafficking.

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