Every year, hundreds of thousands of young Cambodians go abroad, lured by promises of well-paid work. Nearly a third will be enslaved, forced to work without pay and subjected to beatings and sexual violence. In his film THE STORM MAKERS, French-Cambodian filmmaker Guillaume Suon exposes the human-trafficking industry perpetuating this misery through revealing interviews with a teen pressured by her mother to go, a returned woman traumatized by two years of captivity and two so-called “recruiters” hustling to snare more victims.
We spoke to Suon about his film and why he believes AFI DOCS is an impactful place to showcase the film.
What was the inspiration for THE STORM MAKERS?
The film started when I met with Aya, the young mother [and] former slave. I wanted right when I met her to tell her story and that of her violent and corrupted [world]. I knew she was the face that could represent the tragedy of human trafficking.
How did you find the other subjects in your film?
I traveled to areas that are the most affected by human trafficking and started to meet people, one house after another. Along with my teammate, young aspiring Cambodian filmmaker Phally Ngoeum, we spent three years working on the film together, meeting with dozens of traffickers and victims.
How did you get the victims and traffickers to talk openly on camera?
We spent a large part of the filming period working without camera. Just talking with people. Trying to immerse ourselves in the human traffickers world. After at least a few months, I started to bring the camera and to shoot.
What advice do you have for aspiring documentary filmmakers?
Time is the most valuable thing for a filmmaker. Take your time, but film as though it was the last day you [had] with your subject.
To you, what is the significance of screening your film in Washington DC at AFI DOCS?
This is the perfect place to expose the human stories of victims of human trafficking. Behind figures—the millions of modern slaves in the world—the film translates to the audience the pain and the tragedy of one victim’s destiny.
Watch the THE STORM MAKERS trailer below and buy tickets to the AFI DOCS screenings taking place on June 18 and 19, 2015.