Selected for the Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival, The Fare is a chilling story of human trafficking starring Johnny Ortiz (American Crime) and Noemi Pedraza. Written and directed by Santiago Palandine, the film tells of a young Ecuadorian teenager ensnared in a sex trafficking organization, who finds himself ordered to transport a fourteen-year-old girl from his hometown. Starring Johnny Ortiz (American Crime, McFarland USA), Eduardo Roman (21 Days), and newcomer Noemi Pedraza, the film is based on a true story.
Javier (Ortiz) was first captured/recruited by Wellington (Roman) as a child, and has gradually received more praise and responsibility. Having ascended through ranks of authority, he’s now made a leader – after he’s forced to choose between shooting or raping the young Cristina (Pedraza). When he’s praised for his ‘success’ and told to transport her to the brothel run by Magdalena (Kristelle Monterrosa), he’s forced to choose between a more direct role in the trafficking or a different route away from all he’s known.
In addition to the rape, which is delivered with maximum punch offscreen, the film also frames suicide and violence in the midst of its short twenty-something run. Palandine strikes me as “one to watch” given his storytelling powers – and the way he shows us just enough to make us cringe and not enough to over-sensualize the evil.
Watching the film, I was struck by the way that Javier is blinded to the evil he’s part of until it becomes personal. He has more than likely trafficked hundreds of people, but his eyes aren’t opened until it’s his “sister,” or family, who are being abused. It’s a graphic example but it’s often true of us in our relationship with sin – we think it’s not that bad until we see how negatively it impacts those around us.
In The Fare, everyone is complicit – regardless of role – in the evil inflicted on our children and society.