The Jammed is an independent Australian film which deals with the confronting subject of the sex slave trade in Australia. Writer/director Dee McLachlan has based the screenplay on real life cases and court transcripts, adding an extra dimension of realism to the film.
Ashley (Veronica Sywak) is a young Melbournian office-worker who becomes inadvertently involved with a Chinese woman, Sunee (Amanda Ma) and her search for her missing daughter Rubi (Sun Park).
Rubi has been brought illegally to Australia by human traffickers, who force her into a life of prostitution and virtual slavery. The film follows the lives of Rubi and fellow sex workers Crystal (Emma Lung) and Vanya (Saskia Bermeister), as they are physically and mentally abused by sleazy illegal brothel owner Vic Glassman (Andrew S Gilbert) and his gang of henchman.
The plot moves along briskly but without any major twists or surprises, and the performances of the cast, particularly Sywak and Lung, are strong and believable. Generally the writing is strong – McLachlan says the script was virtually unchanged from her first draft – though I found some of the scenes in the immigration holding centre a little contrived and unbelievable.
The film was shot on location in Melbourne, and I enjoyed seeing familiar sights and streetscapes woven into the plot. Much of the action takes place in moving cars, which I found a bit grating after a while. The choice of locations is superb, conveying a dark and street-wise view of inner-suburban Melbourne, and adding to the gritty atmosphere of the film.
Incredibly McLachlan was unable to secure any funding for the movie, and could not even find a distributor, instead having to pay marketing costs and share profits in exchange for a limited two-week season at Cinema Nova. Critical reviews to date have been strong, and the session I attended was virtually fully sold out, which hopefully will translate into a wider release for the film.