Friday, July 20, 2012

26. Lilya-4-ever (2002)

Lilya 4 ever is a powerful and realistic film about human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Written and directed by Swedish filmmaker Lukas Moodysson the story is based loosely on the life of a young Lithuanian girl who made the headlines in Sweden in 2000.  As the director states in an interview:  

When we made the film, we received so many letters from organisations who were touched by the film and wanted to open a discussion because they were working with similar issues. Everyone - from someone at an orphanage in Chile to the Swedish foreign minister - got in touch. I am now learning a lot about trafficking and prostitution but when I started to write the script I knew exactly what I wanted to write. It was thrown into my head. Somewhere in the back of my mind I had heard about lots of things that had happened in Sweden like this. There was a girl in Malmo, which is where I am from, who threw herself off a bridge after she escaped from being locked up in an apartment in circumstances not completely dissimilar to those of Lilya. It is not a film about her but it is partly inspired by her. In the back of my mind I did have a lot of things that I had heard from people and read about.

Lilya is a 16 year old girl who lives in an unnamed town in the former Soviet Union (the film is shot in Estonia).  Abandoned by her mother who moves to the US with her boyfriend Lilya is left to fend for herself.  After her aunt takes her apartment Lilya is left destitute with no option but to prostitute herself.  But then, one evening, Lilya meets Andrei at a bar.  Andrei becomes her boyfriend and offers her a job in Sweden.  In Sweden, Lilya's passport is taken from her and she is taken to an apartment and raped by her future employer....  

An excellent film about human trafficking.  Brutal and unrelenting.  The smart camera work forces the audience to experience the sexual abuse from Lilya's point of view.  An important movie.  

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