February 12, 2004
Sponsored by the Council on Southeast Asia Studies at Yale University
Film Screening:


Trading Women*

followed by
Q&A with Writer/Director David A. Feingold

Premiering in April 2003, Trading Women investigates the trade in minority girls and women from the hill tribes of Burma, Laos and China into the Thai sex industry. This is the first film to follow the trade in women in all its complexity and to consider the impact of this 'far away' problem on the gobal community.  Filmed on location in Southeast Asia, and narrated by Oscar-winning actress, Angelina Jolie, Trading Women enters the worlds of brothel owners, trafficked girls, voluntary sex-workers, corrupt police and anxious politicians.

The culmination of five years of field research, the film shatters Western myths about the sex trade.  Trading Women also examines the efforts of the U.S. Government to fight trafficking through a punitive regime intended to sanction any country that does not meet U.S. standards, an approach some feel may be counter-productive.   The film answers the question: why has there been an exponential increase in highland women moving into the sex trade?  Thirty years ago there was a thriving sex industry in Thailand, but there were no minority girls in it: no Akha, no Lahu, no Hmong, no Karen.   What happened?  Trading Women shows how the upland economy was destroyed by a combination of well-meaning development and opium suppression programs in Thailand; and civil unrest, economic dislocation, and repression in Burma. The result threatens both the physical and cultural survival of highland minorities.

The producers of "Trading Women" hope to bring the global spotlight to women’s issues such as cross border trafficking and coerced sexual exploitation by promoting the film in co-ordination with human rights organizations, the women's media and the fashion business. What sets this film apart from previous works on the sex trade in Asia is the producer's unparalleled access to all levels of this clandestine industry. Fluent in the languages of the region, Feingold takes the audience to the epicenter of this illicit activity, shedding new light on the tragedy for these enslaved women and threatened cultures.

An award winning anthropologist/ filmmaker, Dr. David Feingold is a veteran of over twenty films shot in Southeast Asia. He has worked at Angkor Wat, filmed with the Khmer Rouge in the jungle, undertaken extensive research and filming on landmines in Cambodia and Mozambique, and is a United Nations Advisor.  He has conducted extended research on opium production and trade among Akha and Shan peoples of the Thai-Burma frontier. For additional perspective on this film and the issues it raises, see U.S. IIP Washington File interview with David Feingold (Vicki Silverman)

77 minutes, rd 2003; Directed and written by David A. Feingold; Narrated by Angelina Jolie; Produced by Dean W. Slotar and David A. Feingold

*(Update) Trading Women is available on DVD through Documentary Educations Resources: www.der.org/films/trading-women.html

Thursday, February 12, 2004
3:30 P.M. (starting promptly!)
Henry R. Luce Hall Auditorium
34 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, CT
contact seas@yale.edu for information
or call 203-432-3431