“Buoyancy,” a dark thriller that highlights human trafficking in Thailand’s commercial fishing industry, has been selected as Australia’s submission for the best international feature film at the Oscars. The film is presented in the Khmer and Thai languages.
It is the debut feature of Rodd Rathjen. Production was by Causeway Films’ Samantha Jennings (“Cargo”) and Kristina Ceyton (“The Nightingale,” “The Babadook”), with Rita Walsh (“I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story”).
Inspired by real events, the film was shot almost entirely at sea, and is the story of a 14-year-old Cambodian boy who leaves home in search of a better life but finds himself enslaved on a fishing trawler.
“This film has been made possible by the extraordinary commitment of all those involved and the courage of survivors who shared their stories,” Jennings and Ceyton said. “They entrusted us to bring their experiences to the world because, as one person put it, ‘No one can hear us, nobody knows we are here.’”
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Australia has submitted 13 films in the category (formerly best foreign-language film) since 1996. The film was chosen by a committee of Australian industry professionals convened by federal funding body Screen Australia.
“‘Buoyancy’ is a thought-provoking and moving story about human trafficking, but also a universal story of how poverty dehumanizes people,” said Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia. “The creative team from Causeway Films have a great track record of creating powerful debut feature films that resonate with audiences locally and internationally.”
“Buoyancy” received major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Feracious Entertainment, MIFF Premiere Fund, Film Victoria and post-production company Definition Films. Umbrella Entertainment is distributing the film in Australia and New Zealand, with international sales handled by Charades and Echo Studio.