Fields of Mudan

A young Chinese girl named Mudan (Nicole Nishimoto) dreams of going to America with her mother. Her fantasies take her to a beautiful field and she is running with her mother toward a large farm house is the distance. She imagines the U.S. flag as a beacon of hope. 

 

Then her sleep is interrupted by the bouncing of the truck in which she is riding. It stops and the door opens. The dim light shows the child to be about eight or nine. She carries a picture she has drawn of her with her mother; it is what she dreams. A woman, in traditional Chinese dress, Madam Zhao (Yaping), beckons her out of the truck, takes her by the hand, and leads her to a dwelling. It is night. The little one joins other young girls asleep on mats. 

 

Mudan does not know where she is. The woman comes again and demands that the girls wake and dress because they have customers…

 

This harrowing short subject film was written and directed in 2004 by Stevo Chang, a graduate student of the Film School at Florida State University, Tallahassee. It is a story about human trafficking and the sex trade and is a 2006 Academy Awards qualifier in the category of narrative short film.

 

“This film raises disturbing questions,” said Sister Mary Geninio, Justice Coordinator for the Western Province of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. “Did Mudan’s mother sell her or was she kidnapped? Where is this kind of thing happening? Is it going on in the United States? It is estimated that almost one million people are trafficked globally each year for purposes of forced labor, domestic slavery, coerced prostitution, and sexual servitude; most of these victims are women and children. Between
20,000 -50,000 persons are trafficked to the United States each year as well.”

 

The television news magazine Dateline went undercover in Cambodia in 2004 to investigate this form of modern day slavery and episodes of Law & Order have featured this alarming story. Unlike Lifetime’s worthy and explicitly intense miniseries Human Trafficking that aired in 2005 (with Mira Sorvino, Donald Sutherland and Robert Carlysle), The Fields of Mudan invites us to accompany this young girl for twenty minutes and allows our imaginations fill in the details. The miniseries presented a reality in a visceral way, almost too ugly and terrible to believe; The Fields of Mudan suggests it so that we are able to feel the heartbreak of ruined lives up close and personal.

 

Amnesty International (www.amnestusa.org) through its Artists for Amnesty program in Los Angeles and Pax Christi (www.paxchristi.net) are involved in efforts to halt this nightmare. The Fields of Mudan is appropriate for high school students and for classes and groups studying social justice themes.

Pope Benedict XVI told the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See in early January this year that the world cannot “overlook the scourge of human trafficking, which remains a disgrace in our time.” On January 10, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (the original act was signed into law in 2000) to combat human trafficking within the United States.

 

A government web site reported on January 11, 2006 that the “U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports it has made 5,400 arrests and obtained 2,300 convictions in cases of human trafficking and smuggling since 2003.” (www.usinfo.state.gov)

 

 

In 2004 the United Nations estimated that human trafficking was a $9.5 billion dollar industry.

 

Dr. Janice Shaw Course of Concerned Women for America outlined three things that must happen to stop trafficking in the sex trade: 1) Stop the supply through awarenss campaigns; 2) Find and prosecute the traffickers; 3) End the demand for prostitutes.

 

According to Genino who works with a group of women religious from various congregations working to stop this crime against humanity, “The Fields of Mudan captures quite poignantly the experience of the abyss between hope and despair.”

 

“Human trafficking”, she concluded, “is the tragedy of the 21st century.”

For more on the film, visit: www.fieldsofmudan.com

 

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