THE JAMMED
2007
 

Part 1:  Film Information
Genre:   Drama/Thriller
Runtime:   89mins
Rating:   MA
Release Date:  October 2007
Budget:  $600,000

Cast   
Emma Lung  Crystal  Veronica Sywak  Ashley   Saskia Burmeister  Vanya
 
Masa Yamaguchi  Dyce
Todd MacDonald  Tom
 
Andrew S. Gilbert  Mr. Glassman
Kate Atkinson  Gabi
 
Damien Richardson  Federal Agent Mollica    Amanda Ma  Sunee

Crew    
Director/Writer   Dee McLachlan
Producers  Sally Ayre-Smith  Andrew Buck
Dee McLachlan
Music
Grant Innes McLachlan    Cinematagraphy  Peter Falk
Editing  Anne Carter

Maryjeanne Watt
   Awards    2008: Nominated for Best Actress, Best Director, Best Film, Best Screenplay
 2007:
Won Best feature film, best music, best script
  Nominated for Best Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Editing
  Bibliography of Interviews
ABC David Stratton interviews writer/director Dee McLachlan and actor, Veronica Sywak    http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s2002114.htm
 
Urban Cinefile Andrew Urban interviews Dee McLachlan and Saskia Burmeister  http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=13426&s=Interviews
In Film Australia Luke Buckmaster interviews Veronica Sywak http://www.infilm.com.au/reviews/thejammed.html
World Socialist Web Site Richard Philips interviews Dee McLachlan     http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/sep2007/jamm-s21.shtml
World Vision Australia interviews Dee McLachlan http://www.worldvision.com.au/news/actionnews/viewArticle_enh.asp?articleID=150

Bibliography of Reviews
Variety by Richard Kuipers http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117934075.html?categoryid=31&cs=1&p=0
ABC by David Stratton    http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s2002090.htm
Urban Cinefile by Andrew Urban  http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=13370&s=DVD
Cinephilia by Bernard Hemingway http://www.cinephilia.net.au/show_movie.php?movieid=3542
In Film Australia by Luke Buckmaster http://www.infilm.com.au/reviews/thejammed.html
Hoopla by Stuart Wilson   http://hoopla.nu/films/jammed/jammed.html
Superciliousness     http://superciliousness.com/movies/2007/9/28/the-jammed-2007.html
World Socialist Web Site by Richard Philips     http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/sep2007/jamm-s21.shtml
Web Presence
Although The Jammed is a very recent project it has caused quite a stir. Being nominated for many independent film awards, this film has made a mark on the web. There are a myriad of interviews, reviews, and comments from around the world. I imagine that this is going to continue to flourish considering this film hasn’t begun to spread world wide as I’m sure it will. Because it is so recent it was difficult to find critical essays or journal articles but I used the resources that were available.
Part 2: Critical Review of Film and Literature 
Plot Synopsis
This modern day social thriller depicts the story of a few people who were wound into the sex trafficking industry in Australia. When a Chinese mother comes overseas to find her daughter who is trapped in a Melbourne brothel, she finds hope in Ashley Hudson who has no idea what is coming her way. We follow Ashley, a bored, single insurance agent as her life intersects with Crystal’s, a young Indonesian prostitute. As they are both reluctantly wrangled into different parts of this unknown world, we discover the struggle to escape the dangers of sex trafficking. These characters, based on real life accounts, find themselves working together to rescue themselves from the brothels invisible chains. Through their struggle to safely escape the threats of sex trafficking, we learn more about the menacing workings of illegal prostitution and government deportation.
In the very beginning we sit with Crystal (Emma Lung) whilst she is on the verge of deportation and what seems to be ultimate depression. We are feeling as lost as she looks but soon we jump backwards in a slightly “bumpy timeshift”, according to an interview in Variety, to take us back three weeks where from here out the story is told with a smooth flow of flashbacks and introduction of characters. We learn how Ashley Hudson (Veronica Swylak) came to be apart of this appalling adventure when she was roped into taking Sunee (Amanda Ma) home from the airport. Arriving from China to save her daughter from the demonic sex trafficking, Sunee begs for help from Amanda who reluctantly agrees. From here she gets emotionally pulled into the lives of the three girls trapped in the illegal Melbourne brothel. She calls upon her exboyfriend Tom for assistants and eventually works her way to rescuing the three girls from a Melbourne gang’s chains. Essentially it’s “not a whodunit but more a howdunit” film showing the life of brothel owners, prostitutes, customers and ordinary citizens according to Jonathan Dawson of ABC Tasmania.

Critical Uptake

The Jammed plays a very important role in Australian and world society today. This very current film digs up a topic that is prominent, dangerous and yet, secretive still today. Sex trafficking is the business of selling girls repetitively for sex. These, usually young, women are sent from Asia with the promise of a new life and instead are kept in brothels under the control of the boss and used as the men please. In the last five years Australia has been listed as the 10th main destination for victims of trafficking, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Because of the nature of this brutal business, it is largely kept underground and is not something that can be talked about publicly. That is why it is so important and so necessary to have dedicated film makers such as Dee McLachlan to bring out such an incredible story for the world to see. This is the type of film that really has the ability to provoke change in society.
To be able to create this film with respect to victims of sex trafficking and those related to the situation, it was necessary for both the writer/director and the cast to research the details of the events. McLachlan’s initial vision for this film was created on the basis of a true story of an account that she read in the paper. She knew it was a story to be told soon and wanted it to hold as much credibility and power as it could. She says during an interview with World Vision Australia that she spent much of her preproduction time researching on the internet, studying court cases, meeting with key people such as directors of organizations like Project Respect. Beyond that, the actual script was created with use of court transcripts that were taken from actual accounts. That being said, you can be assured that this story is totally credible.
It was equally as important for the actors to research their roles. Veronica Sywak who played Vanya spent her time rehearsing and building character by visiting not only mainstream brothels but suburban ones which are the ones that frequently go unnoticed. It was important for the actors to beware of over acting or creating characters that were too easy to dislike for the fear of hurting the credibility of the situation. For example, the brothel owner, Mr. Glassman, was a normal looking middle class fellow with a charming wife about to open her new art gallery. We weren’t expected to have any obvious hatred for him although on our own accounts, the audience found his illegal brothel despicable. By researching and diligent work in pre production, Dee McLachlan has created this believable, honest recount and people have taken notice. “McLachlan held her credibility through out the film”, according to an interview with Andrew Urban.
Because of the emotional content of this story, McLachlan actually hired a special counselor to be present on the set during most of the shoots. She was necessary to help the cast and crew deal with some of the emotional stress that some of the more graphic scenes brought about. Saskia Burmeister, who plays Vanya, said during an interview with Andrew Urban that “one scene made her shudder after each take”.

When Dee McLachlan read a story on the 7th page of her morning paper she was outraged. Outraged and motivated. She was furious that such an appalling story about  a group of 40 Thai women being sold for sex trafficking was thrown to the back of the newspaper instead of the front page. Because of the urgency of the situation, McLachlan didn’t want to waste time on gathering too much money. She decided instead to take this film on independently. This can be a very challenging choice because it puts the responsibility of gathering funds on the creator alone but fortunately her first supporter fronted her $400,000 which motivated the rest of the investors. This low-budget Aussie thriller is an “honorable addition to the small number of films tackling the topic seriously” according to a review by Richard Kuipers of Variety.
With a budget of only $600,000, McLachlan made use of any resources she could to make ends meet. By the end she had proved to shoot a decent film in HD. She used subtle editing that kept the story real but also dramatic. For instance, the flash backs were often desaturated to show the degrading sex scenes and brutal treatment in a more. During intense scenes that deserved more attention, she applied a very gentle slow motion effect that let the emotional energy linger for a bit longer.

  The Jammed won Best Film, Best Script and Best Music at the Inside Film Awards and was awarded Best Film of 2007 by the Australian Catholic Film Office. It is a film that not only reaches out to Australians but is relevant to communities world wide. a film that should be stretching world wide to bring this contemporary issue to the surface. Dee McLachlan discusses in an interview that it is currently in the process of being relaunched with hopes of spreading globablly. It has already been shown at the UN during a Human Trafficking forum in February.

  This touching film can be categorized confidently as a social issue film. This works because it is a film that takes a real life issue and uses cinematic fiction to reach out to people and share the stories of “the cities that we are really living in” according to the director, Dee McLachlan, in an interview. There are many films that “combine social analysis and dramatic conflict within a coherent narrative” to express importance of a specific topic. This is the definition of social problem films according to Garry Gillard’s book, Ten Types of Australian Film. Another film that falls into this genre is Lilya Forever. I bring this up because this social problem film is said to have inspired Dee McLachlan to make her first Australian feature. The two stories resemble one another because of the high hopes that these young girls have of starting a new life. The life promised to them turns from a dream to a nightmare.
  In another interview with Dee McLachlan she says "I am so proud of this film because it exposes a cultural calamity instead of buying into the cultural fringe.” This statement clearly describes why it is necessary for people like McLachlan to continue making social issue films. Film is a medium that can both entertain and educate efficiently and it’s important to remember the strength and impact that these films can have on society.

About Dee McLachlan

Dee McLachlan, a director born in South Africa, is now a local Australian filmmaker. She has been put on the industry radar after an extensive career in South Africa, America and South East Asia. She was well-known for making five other feature films across the seas and has directed more than 50 television programs over 25 years. The difference with the Jammed is that it was a topic that she truly discovered because of a gut feeling when she read it in the paper. Unlike her other works, she feels most compelled about the Jammed for reasons related to the disguised problems of a society. Although her other films were interested in social change and exploiting the disadvantaged, those topics were more apparent in the locations which they took place. This account of Human Trafficking is underground and she doesn’t feel that out of sight, out of mind should be used.

 

 

 

Work Cited
World Vision Australia, April 2008 http://www.worldvision.com.au/news/actionnews/viewArticle_enh.asp?articleID=150

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), May 2008

Cinephilia Hemingway, Bernard. May 2008 http://www.cinephilia.net.au/show_movie.php?movieid=3542
Variety Kuipers, Roger. April 2008 http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117934075.html?categoryid=31&cs=1&p=0
ABC Stratton, David. April 2008    http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s2002090.htm
Urban Cinefile Urban, Andrew. May 2008  http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=13370&s=DVD
In Film Australia Buckmaster, Luke. May 2008 http://www.infilm.com.au/reviews/thejammed.html
Hoopla Wilson, Stuart. May 2008    http://hoopla.nu/films/jammed/jammed.html
Superciliousness     http://superciliousness.com/movies/2007/9/28/the-jammed-2007.html
World Socialist Web Site Philips, Richard. May 2008     http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/sep2007/jamm-s21.shtml
Ten Types of Australian Film by Gillard, Gary. 2008