Australian Rod Rathjen’s first film as director, “Buoyancy” is a powerful dramatization of human trafficking within Thailand’s offshore fishing fleet. Shot largely in Khmer and Thai, and selected as Australia’s foreign-language Oscar contender, it may also be a role model for cultural sensitivity and activism.
The film plays this week in competition at the International Film Festival & Awards Macao.
Having discovered the harrowing subject in an online report, Rathjen set about interviewing survivors and escapees from the fishing fleet. Then he put together a cultural consultancy draft of the screenplay, before shooting it as authentically as possible. “We always had people who had been on the boats in the film in non-speaking roles,” Rathjen told Variety. “We could always ask while we were filming – everything from understanding the fishing process, to understanding the emotional and psychological trauma.”