Child sex trafficking is at the forefront of Netflix’s latest local film set to release on the streaming platform next month.
Starring South African A-listers Hlubi Mboya and Deon Lotz, “I Am All Girls” is a gritty yet powerful story of a global child sex trafficking syndicate, operating in South Africa, with its long coastline and porous borders.
Bringing this mystery-thriller produced by Nthibah Pictures to life is South African actresses Hlubi Mboya in the lead role as ‘Ntombizonke’, a troubled but powerful detective with a dark, ugly secret and Erica Wessels who plays her unlikely confidant and emotionally-troubled colleague, ‘Jodie Synman’.
The story follows the two detectives, as they embark on an all-consuming journey to find justice and bring down the global human trafficking ring that once consumed one of their lives.
Directed by Donovan Marsh, the story is set in the dying days of apartheid where girls are sold to Iranian sheiks, in exchange for oil, to bypass sanctions.
Once these girls are considered “used up”, they are returned to be sold into low-end brothels. It’s believed that the advantage of trading in women instead of arms or drugs is that women can be sold many times over.
“This film is a shocking, deeply atmospheric, thrilling mystery and intense character journey into one of the most terrifying tragedies of modern times – child sex trafficking.
“The single ray of light is the budding relationship between Jodie, an emotional, troubled and honest detective, and the damaged, but powerful Ntombi, who has overcome the constrictions of her abuse and emerged as hard and defiant as an avenging butterfly,” said Marsh.
He said he wanted to focus on building tension and suspense through silence, sparse atonal music and deep, heart-rending performances from all characters – not just the leads.
“Everyone in this film is damaged at their core, hiding a raw history that must simmer behind the eyes and bleed through their movements and speech which are stifled by their past,” Marsh said.
He said he wanted to create an atmosphere that would unsettle, anger and inspire viewers.
“It must suck you in with the mystery, move you with the character study and shock you with the violence – which would be understated as all the best violence is.
“It's a combination of commercial and art that lets the pictures do the talking, with the dialogue taking back seat, sometimes not heard at all, as music, sound effects and mood take over. This film will be made in its stylish execution,” he said.
Other members of the cast include Brandon Daniels, Mothusi Magano, Masasa Mbangeni and Nomvelo Makhanya.
“I Am All Girls” will release on Netflix on May 14.