Child sex tourism can be found in any country, but is more likely to occur in poverty-stricken areas where traveller’s wealth can be used for exploitation and where government systems lack policies and institutions that protect children. The Often Forgotten takes us to Thailand, where sex tourism vacations are available through the internet and airline industries promote cheap vacations full of “adult” entertainment. Often, children living in poverty are forced to move to big cities to find work and end up falling prey to sex trafficking and exploitation. The stories of these young men can no longer be neglected.
This documentary film will give access to varying perspectives of those involved in Thailand’s sex industry, on both the darker and lighter ends of the spectrum. Throughout the film, we follow the journey of activists who have found their purpose in advocating for these boys. One of these activists, Alezandra Russell, founded a non-profit organization in Northern Thailand after witnessing first-hand the horrors of trafficking, exploitation and the violence committed against this overlooked and unimaginable population of boys. Her organization hosts an array of health, educational and legal support to help in restoring, rebuilding and empowering the boys to live a life outside of the sex trade. She spent 9-years pouring her heart and resources into being a champion for these boys before being forced to flee Thailand as a result of her work, being victimized herself by Thai officials. Alezandra continues to advocate across the globe for restoring the young lives of boys served by her organization. The Often Forgotten documents her journey from the start of her work with Urban Light and the connection she has built with the boys, to her losing everything leading to her finding her amended purpose that is now speaking globally on her activism work and shifting the global dialogue of sex trafficking to be more inclusive of boys.
In most cases, boys will enter the trade in hopes of obtaining paperwork for citizenship and a better life for themselves and their families. These boys are sent to urban areas such as Bangkok to earn wages that are, more often than not, sent back home to support their families, leaving them with very little income to support themselves. Eventually, the boys are forced to face the reality that sex work is the only way to provide enough money for their survival.
As you are taken down the streets of the Red Light Districts of Thailand, you will see footage of flashing neon signs with slogans such as “Fresh Boys,” “Hot Males,” and “Love Teen Massage.” Men who have purchased boys for sex and also men who own establishments from which boys are sold will give us a look into the buyer’s perspective. This film offers the contrast to this with interviews with advocates who are on the ground doing outreach work providing safe sex options, as many of these boys have contracted a form of HIV and/or STIs, emergency services and harm reduction. These people also offer a glimpse into the social and political violence that contributes to sex trafficking in Thailand.
THIS FILM WILL COMBINE AESTHETICS of well-lit, cinematic shots and interviews within the trenches style footage while following these boys and activists. Undercover footage inside the locations where the boys are being sold will also be incorporated. We will be using cinematic, 4K footage along with surveillance camera footage to accomplish this, juxtaposing beautiful wide shots with the cramped, darker shots generating emotional responses both visually and audibly. The film will also utilize archival images or footage when educating on the history of sex tourism in Thailand.