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When Santa Clara University communications Professor Jonathan Fung first learned about human trafficking at a conference five years ago, his thoughts instantly went to his own daughter and how horrified he would be if she were ever subjected to the atrocities of trafficking, which affect thousands of girls and young women everyday around the world.
Several years later, when Fung decided to take action using his medium of choice, film, it was a bit ironic that he cast his daughter—now 8 years old—to play the lead in his 15-minute film (he says she was not aware of some of the darker implications of her role).
The resulting short film that spotlights human trafficking and follows a man’s moral dilemma will premiere at 7 p.m. in SCU’s Recital Hall June 1.
“I believe we can use the arts to bring a consciousness to modern day slavery,” said Fung.
The statistics about human trafficking are appalling, Fung noted. Around the world today there are over 30 million slaves as a result of human trafficking: 80 percent of those slaves are women or children. Victims of human trafficking are often subjected to forced and coerced sexual exploitation and/or forced labor.
Hark is a project that Fung has been working on over the past 15 months and he believes that its premiere is just the beginning of the education and dialogue that is necessary to take action against human trafficking. Fung eventually hopes to take Hark into middle schools, high schools, and churches to advocate against human trafficking and to build awareness, serving as a call to action against this social justice issue.
“We are a visual culture and film and the arts can serve as a scholarly medium to educate, challenge, and mobilize a community,” said Fung.
This is Fung’s second project focusing on social justice and human trafficking. His first was an art and video installation in 2009 called Down the Rabbit Hole. This installation took place in the heart of the Tenderloin in San Francisco and presented a shocking, heart-wrenching look into child sex trafficking.
Hark was filmed last September from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. over five nights in San Francisco. There was a cast of six actors and 40 crewmembers, many of who were unpaid. Among the crewmembers were six SCU students and two SCU alumni who got to experience working on the set as costume designers, production assistants, and casting directors.
“Everyone involved really believed in the story that the film presents,” said Fung.
Robert Tomaszewski, colorist at FotoKem in Burbank, Calif. color graded and mastered Hark and, while watching the film, was deeply affected by Hark’s imagery and the power of the film’s message. According to Fung, Tomaszewski’s connection with Hark stemmed from having two young children of his own and realizing the harsh reality of this social injustice.
“If everyone has a reaction like that, that is what I’m looking for,” said Fung. “I want the viewer’s heart to open and soften for this issue.”
Fung received funding for Hark from a private investor, four University grants, Kodak, and FotoKem—as well as raising over $3000 on the online fundraising platform Indiegogo.com.
Hark’s premiere showing will be followed by a panel discussion featuring delegates from the International Justice Mission and the Freedom House as well as Detective Jeremy Martinez, SJPD Human Trafficking Task Force.