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Joy

Sudabeh Mortezai (Macondo, LFF 2014) presents a vital and hugely affecting drama that tackles the vicious cycle of sex trafficking in modern Europe.

Dir-Scr Sudabeh Mortezai
Prod Oliver Neumann
With Joy Alphonsus, Mariam Precious
Austria
2018
99min
Sales Films Boutique

Nigerian Joy earns money through sex work, with most of her earnings going to her ‘Madame’. She lives in a dorm with other women who are on similar ‘contracts’; none are allowed passports until they pay the debt of their illegal passage to Austria. The women’s families in Nigeria live under constant threat of bad juju if the women do not behave – a threat each of them takes extremely seriously. Despite having hired another woman to care for her own child, Joy has almost paid off her freedom when she is asked to supervise Precious, a much younger new recruit who is causing the Madame problems. Director Mortezai brings a meticulous eye to this urgent situation hidden in plain sight. She immerses us in these women’s everyday lives, avoiding sentimentalising her subjects, the naturalistic approach offering a devastating portrait of human resilience in the most brutal of environments. Playing her namesake – as do all the women here – ‘Joy’ Alphonsus imbues every scene with her indomitable strength, juggling the near-impossible tensions of a system that pits her own responsibility to family against her humanity.

Tricia Tuttle

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