Sunday, 11 October 2009

Little boy, big spark (Director's statement)

It all began with the little boy.

Holidaying in Bali some years ago, I met a twelve-year-old Indonesian boy who insisted on speaking to me in Japanese. My grasp of the language is limited to what you’d find on a sushi menu, but he couldn’t have cared less. It didn’t even matter that I spoke Indonesian fairly well. He had made his decision and until a Japanese person showed up, I’d have to do.

When amusement finally gave way to annoyance, I asked him what the deal was. “I’m practicing,” he said. “When I grow up I want to sex-service Japanese girls.”

His reply was gleeful, and all the embarrassment was mine. Here was someone with a career goal most wouldn’t admit to, at an age when most don’t even have career goals!

Now, the fact that women pay for sex hardly fascinates me as a subject. Prostitution - in any variation - is not new ground for a filmmaker. Also, female sex tourism is common in poor countries and popular beach destinations, and Southeast Asia, where I’ve lived most of my life, has plenty of both.

But this was something else. Why was this boy so eager to get started in the flesh trade? Why was he taking pride in his perceived, future sexual prowess? And what does it say about Paradise, a term I’ve always eyed with suspicion anyway, when it can only offer its children such limited dreams of the future?

I had to find out. And when I did, I had to make this film.


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