The Storm Makers

PBS Premiere: Aug. 31, 2015Check the broadcast schedule »

Filmmaker Statement

Filming From the Perspective of Trafficker

Would you sell your neighbor, or even your own child, to a trafficking network in order to save your family? Which one of your children would you sacrifice? How would you feel when you realize that the people you have recruited are being enslaved, exploited and beaten because of you? What becomes of your humanity once you decide to exploit another human being for profit?

These are the first questions I asked to myself when I started to film the traffickers. I wanted to understand what kind of persons they were. My purpose was neither to judge them nor to reduce their responsibility. I wanted to focus on the personal reasons that led them to sell human beings. I wanted to give the audience the opportunity to delve into traffickers' daily lives. Therefore I filmed them face to face, with the idea that the more we get into their minds, the more we can understand their motives and actions.

The raw — and sometimes cruel — vision the Storm Makers have of their victims offers a unique perspective on the place that migrant girls hold in Cambodian society. I intended to give a broad overview of the trafficking business while zooming in on the individuals involved in the process of selling human beings.

The film offers a rare political perspective on the economic, social and ethical crisis that has disturbed Cambodia dramatically. It reveals a shocking perspective on the relentless exploitation of the rural population to feed Cambodia's hunger for economic development. How can a country come to lose sight so much of its own values? How can Cambodians accept bargaining with the lives of their own relatives? How did contemporary Cambodian society become so entrenched in greed and profit?

In this era of globalization, I want to show that — quote the Nobel Prize-winning economist Gérard Debreu — "the right to life cannot always be assured, for reasons of cost."

Filming the Victims in the Mirror of Their Traffickers

I wanted to free the young migrants of their status of merchandise, to which they have been reduced by the traffickers, giving them the possibility to speak out and tell their own stories in details.

Aya does not dare to speak to anyone about her traumatic experience. Her participation in the film is a way of finding some sense of closure to what happened to her in Malaysia. How can Aya continue to live when the memory of the violence she experienced during two years of slavery haunts her every single day?

Cambodian migrants have been reduced to the status of slaves. They exist only through the images of poverty and decline provided by the media. They are transparent, or worse, completely invisible.

Nobody asks them about their experiences abroad, neither the villagers nor their own families. Shame prevents them from fighting back. They remain silent about the abuse they have suffered: the rapes, the beatings, the humiliation and insults, the exploitation. They have to recover alone, and in silence. Back home, the psychological shock can be so intense that some of them give in completely. Several girls have committed suicide; others have gone mad. Others would even migrate again, sometimes only a few days after their return, in a sort of suicidal mission. They are trapped into a dual exile: slaves abroad, silent victims at home.

I want migrants like Aya to feel free in front of the camera, allowing words to serve as therapy and an escape from the past.

Guillaume Suon, Director/Writer