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Shot on location in Cambodia, including many scenes in actual brothels in the notorious red light district of Phnom Penh, HOLLY is a captivating, touching and emotional experience. Patrick, an American card shark and dealer of stolen artifacts, has been 'comfortably numb' in Cambodia for years, when he encounters Holly, a 12-year-old Vietnamese girl, in the K11 red light village. The girl has been sold by her impoverished family and smuggled across the border to work as a prostitute. Holly's virginity makes her a lucrative prize, and when she is sold to a child trafficker, Patrick embarks on a frantic search through both the beautiful and sordid faces of the country, in an attempt to bring her to safety. Harsh, yet poetic, this feature forms part of the 'K-11' Project, dedicated to raising awareness of the epidemic of child trafficking and the sex slavery trade through several film projects. The film's producers endured substantial hardships in order to be able to shoot in Cambodia ... Written by
I just watched Holly along with another movie about trafficking and child sexual exploitation called Trade at Film by the Sea international film festival. I have to say that Holly blew Trade out of the water.
Holly is a powerful and amazing film on many different levels. From purely an artistic and cinematic perspective, it is amazing. The sound-mixing, camera angles, directing and acting are all spot on.
Additionally, the way it handles the subject matter is tasteful and non-exploitative. It presents the issue of child sexual exploitation in a way that is both educational and accurate. The filmmakers paid an exquisite amount of attention to detail, truly capturing the nuances of the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and trafficking. Too often when dealing with a subject matter of this kind, it is tempting to shock the audience with graphic scenes of rape, and violence. Holly is able to achieve all of this without falling into that typical Hollywood trend.
I've had the pleasure of seeing Holly at two separate film festivals, once in the US and once in Netherlands. I can honestly say that I have never seen audiences more moved. Just listening to conversations after the screening, people are asking what they personally can do to fight child sexual exploitation.
I highly recommend it to everyone, both for its cinematic value and its subject matter.
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