When 13-year-old Adriana (played by Paulina Gaitan) is kidnapped by sex traffickers in Mexico City, her 17-year-old brother, Jorge (Cesar Ramos), sets off on a desperate mission to save her. Trapped by an underground network of international thugs who earn millions exploiting their human cargo, Adriana’s only friend throughout her ordeal is Veronica (Alicja Bachleda), a young Polish woman captured by the same criminal gang. As Jorge dodges overwhelming obstacles to track the girl’s abductors, he meets Ray (Kevin Kline), a Texas cop whose own family loss leads him to become an ally.
From the barrios of Mexico City and the treacherous Rio Grande border, to a secret internet sex slave auction and a tense confrontation at a stash house in suburban New Jersey, Ray and Jorge forge a close bond as they frantically pursue Adriana’s kidnappers before she is sold and disappears into a brutal underworld from which few victims ever return.
This is the synopsis of Trade, a feature film that opens across the United States on 28 September 2007.
Inspired by Peter Landesman’s chilling NY Times Magazine story on the U.S. sex trade, “The Girls Next Door,” (published in January 2004), TRADE is a thrilling story of courage and a devastating expose of one of the world’s most heinous crimes. The American debut of Marco Kreuzpaintner, one of Germany’s leading young directors, TRADE is produced by Roland Emmerich and Rosilyn Heller from a screenplay by Academy Award(R) nominee Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries).
Explaining the social context to this dramatised story, the movie’s website says:
“The practice of slavery in the US is something most people think ended with the 13th Amendment in 1865, but in recent years it has returned in an even more virulent form. Fueled by the collapse of the Soviet Union and other eastern European countries, new technologies like the internet, and sieve-like borders, the traffic in human beings has become an epidemic of colossal dimensions. The State Department estimates that as many as 800,000 people are trafficked over international frontiers each year, largely for sexual exploitation. Eighty percent are female and over fifty percent are minors. Many people in this country push this atrocity out of their minds, believing that it only occurs in faraway countries like Thailand, Cambodia, the Ukraine and Bosnia. The truth is that the United States has become a large-scale importer of sex slaves. Free the Slaves, America’s largest anti-slavery organization estimates that at least 10,000 people a year are smuggled or duped into this country by sex traffickers.”
The film’s makers, Roadside Attractions, says it will donate 5 per cent of the opening week box-office gross divided among four organisations participating in the release of the film; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Equality Now, International Justice Mission (IJM), and David Batstone’s Not For Sale Campaign.
On 19 September 2007, they held a benefit premiere at the United Nations headquarters in New York that included supper in the UN Delegates dining room. This marked the first film premiere event ever to take place at the United Nations, with the crusty UN officials mingling with film stars and artistes.