The critically-acclaimed and locally produced film She Has A Name continues to land honours, having been nominated for five Alberta Film and Television Awards.
Nominations have been made in the following categories – Best Dramatic Feature or Made-For-TV Movie – Unveil Studios; Best Director Drama Over 30 Minutes – Matthew Kooman; Best Editor Drama Over 30 Minutes – Matthew Kooman; Best Production Designer/Art Director – Shari Aspinall and Best Makeup and/or Hair Artist Debbie Vandelaar.
“I was excited to hear it,” explained Kooman of the news. “You work really hard and you’ve got your nose in the work, so it’s when you can step back and know that other people think it’s good, too.
“Being recognized is always great – we are really appreciative.
“People are moved by it – there’s a definite connection there that they have to the story.
“There’s also the impact it has to them and to their perception of the complexity of human trafficking and how personal of an issue it is to these people that are involved. So I think it really connects on a personal level to the people who see it.
“That’s a constant theme – people say, ‘Thank you for making this film and for telling this story’. That is something that is always encouraging.”
Not to mentioned that the film also landed the ‘Audience Choice for Best Feature Film’ at this past weekend’s first annual Central Alberta Film Festival (CAFF) in Red Deer. “I was able to be there for the awards, so that was also really cool.
“It’s great to be in festivals – and then to be the audience’s choice is also really great because that is the audience selecting your film, which is really good. Again, it’s just a testament to all of the work that goes into it.”
The Unveil Studios film, which is based on the play by Andrew Kooman, was produced in Red Deer, filmed in Thailand and utilized an international cast and crew.
Key creative team and many crew members originally hail from Central Alberta or were professionally trained in Alberta.
She Has A Name, 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 and New York’s Teresa Ting and Singapore’s Vanessa Toh.
The film, which was also co-directed by Dan Kooman, 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.
“I’m grateful for the support this story continues to have in Central Alberta, where it was born as a play, and where it was made into a film,” explained Andrew. “Both the play and now the film were seen first in Alberta before they were seen by anyone, anywhere else, and I’m really proud of that. It seems fitting. She Has A Name has been embraced by audiences, and Red Deerians have championed it from the start.”
He also mentioned the incredible feedback that follows screenings.
“I’ve had grown men come up to me after a screening with tears in their eyes resolved to do something about the crime of trafficking children. Recently, a Canadian survivor of sex trafficking came up to me after a screening and whispered her name. Those kinds of moments are humbling and gratifying to me as a writer. People are thrilled by the fast-paced narrative and touched deeply by the story of Number 18.”
Looking ahead, the team is also ramping up distribution plans for She Has A Name in the United States and in the UK a well. The film will be further available for bookings, for example, as well.
Meanwhile, affectionately known as the Rosies, the Alberta Film and Television Awards ceremony will take place at a gala evening presentation on April 29th at the SHAW Conference Centre in Edmonton.