Call + Response Goes Where Born into Brothels Went More Effectively


Somebody’s got to pick up where Bono left off, right? A Bay Area musician and Live Aid baby, Justin Dillon recently discovered human trafficking, then decided to make a movie about it. Performance excerpts from the “Concert to End Slavery” (sure to be a companion music DVD) are annoyingly interspersed with Dillon’s earnest efforts at self-education. Madeleine Albright, The New York Times‘s Nicholas Kristof, and other experts give him a tutorial on the millions of women and children who are pressed into service as prostitutes, child soldiers, and agricultural workers. Cornel West (gah!) explains slavery and the blues. On-screen graphics, palsied camera work, and those damn music clips (Matisyahu, Moby, etc.) make this more MTV than Frontline, but Dillon knows his audience was weaned on basic cable. The result is like American Idol meets a C.A.R.E. infomercial. Concerned celebrity-activists Ashley Judd, Daryl Hannah, and Julia Ormond testify to the horrors of trafficking and even visit a few brothels in Thailand and India. If you don’t read the papers, this would be shocking and new. That the Oscar-winning documentary Born Into Brothels was there first, and to better effect, doesn’t deter Dillon’s enthusiastic advocacy for “open-source activism.” His call is commendable if not compelling. “I don’t want to wear someone else’s despair,” Judd tells him about Third World garment manufacturing. Hey, we should put that on a T-shirt! Oh, wait . . .