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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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At UN, Trafficking Film "Trade" Outshines $5000 Paella Over the East River

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- The human trafficking film "Trade" was screened Wednesday night in the UN's Trusteeship Council, for an audience including Ban Ki-moon, Signourey Weaver, Gloria Steinem and many others. While Inner City Press had, in advance, questioned and then ridiculed the $5000 charge for tables at the post-screening reception, and while it was made clear that workaday UN correspondents were not invited, Inner City Press did in fact slip in. And the film was much better than expected. It begins with aerial shots of Mexico City and an air of menace. A 13-year old girl is kidnapped and her brother gives chase. Kevin Kline, playing a Texas policeman, inadvertently sneaks the brother in the U.S., then drives him up to New Jersey, where is the sister's to be auctioned off. (Note: these are not spoilers, as Mr. Kline said all this in the press conference). There's an unrealistic scene in an empty mall parking lot, where the brother leaps out of the truck in full view of the trafficker. But the movie is moving, and the standing ovation that followed as heartfelt.

            Also following as the aforementioned $5000 a table reception, in the Delegates' Dining Room. In full disclosure, Inner City Press crashed this party as well, or arrived without explicit invitation (except from the actor who plays the  brother, who said muchas gracias for the Press' congratulations), but was allowed to attend. For $5000, one might expect more than paella. There were canapes and champagne, and a D.J. spinning the Clash, Maroon 5 and Debby Harry outside overlooking the river. Inside Director Costa of the UNODC blathered on, asking the Polish actress who plays a trafficked girl, "How did it make you feel as a human being?" and saying that Mr. Kline was in the film "A Fish Called Rwanda." 

Mr. Costa: basta, basta!

   Earlier, Mr. Costa took exception to Inner City Press' question about how the $5000 a table would be spend, in relation to a report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. "That is a routine report," he noted, while thanking Inner City Press for covering UNODC so closely.  You're welcome. Less so for his dodging of the question about Sigma Huda, the UN's own special rapporteur on trafficking of persons. The NGO representative on  at Wednesday's noon briefing said that they hope for a fair trial for Ms. Huda. But she has already been convicted.

            But, as one otherwise UN-critical Ambassador suggested, back to the film, which was quite moving. Inevitably, perhaps, the after-party, with its cake shaped like the UN building, made one wonder what those needing the UN in the Central African Republic, say, would think of all this. But this film was made right. We cannot recommend Trade highly enough, with or without the $5000 paella. See it.

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  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540