The Movie Waffler New Release Review - SHE HAS A NAME | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - SHE HAS A NAME

she has a name film review
A lawyer poses as a sex tourist to take down a ruthless Thai pimp.

Review by Ren Zelen

Directed by: Matthew Kooman, Daniel Kooman

Starring: Giovanni Mocibob, Will Yun Lee, Eugenia Yuan, Teresa Ting, Gil Bellows

she has a name film poster

She Has a Name was originally a play written in 2010 by Canadian playwright Andrew Kooman. It dealt with the trafficking of children into sexual slavery and was inspired by tragic deaths in an actual trafficking incident. Kooman has now adapted his harrowing work into a cinematic thriller.

“Whenever I write for the stage I think of film as well,” Kooman has been quoted as saying. He wrote the screenplay, but gave the task of shooting the film on location in Thailand to his brothers, Daniel and Matthew Kooman.

She Has A Name follows the story of Jason (Giovanni Mocibob), a determined and idealistic lawyer, who poses as a sex tourist in the hope of building a legal case against a sadistic pimp who is trafficking underage girls and boys.

she has a name film

After infiltrating several brothels, he meets Number 18 (Teresa Ting) a young prostitute who admits that she is 15 years old and was first abducted when she was only nine.

Jason comes to believe that Number 18 could be a key witness to a barbaric human trafficking tragedy. The victimised girl is known only as Number 18, to reflect how traffickers dehumanise their victims by giving them simply a number, which in some cases is branded onto their bodies.

In perilous meetings in the backrooms of the grimy Bangkok brothel, Jason tries to gain her trust and persuade her to testify against her ‘boss’ and the criminal trafficking ring.

She Has A Name was inspired by an investigation into a shocking trafficking incident in Thailand where a storage container transporting more than 100 people ran out of gas and was abandoned in the heat, causing the deaths of those inside.

she has a name film

The film examines the layers of corruption that enable the global commercial sex trade to thrive, exploiting children and ruining the lives of countless young girls and boys by denying them a future. It touches on the culpability of the sex-tourists, paedophiles and perverts that support this callous, criminal industry.

As Number 18, Ting gives a heart-breaking performance, investing her character with a range of emotions. She begins with the conventional prostitute’s pretence of sexuality that she has been forced to act out, but gives us increasing glimpses into her pain, fear and despair, before she places her fragile hopes in defiance.

Her relationship with Mocibob’s Jason also brings about some of the film’s most moving moments. Mocibob manages to capture the empathy and pity that any decent human might have for the plight of these young victims and the continual horror as he comes face to face with the unimaginable reality they must contend with. Both actors capture the fragility of a connection based in hope and fear during some raw emotional scenes.

Shooting on location in Thailand also injects a gritty sense of authenticity. Shot in and around Bangkok, the film juxtaposes shots of Thailand’s lush landscapes with the claustrophobic drama playing out between 18 and Jason in the dingy room in a city brothel.

In the story, the political corruption is seen to reach deep into the U.S. government. We are reminded that this film is only a fictionalised account of what is really happening to real victims every day, and not just in Asia.

she has a name film

The film offers no easy solutions. Throughout the movie, those tasked with helping victims of human trafficking are faced with deep-seated corruption, callous criminality, poverty and indifference. It’s estimated that of the two million children forced into sexual slavery, only one per cent have been rescued.

While She Has a Name works as a drama, the brothers stress that the film has also been created to reach a larger audience and raise awareness of human trafficking and its underage victims. After attending college, Andrew Kooman worked for a Christian non-profit organization in Malaysia, where he came across child victims of the global sex trade. His brothers have also made documentaries expanding on this theme.

As part of the film’s distribution strategy, global anti-trafficking agencies will be distributing the film through their networks to ‘Fund Freedom.’ Through the website, 20% of money made through rentals or purchases of the Blu-ray will go to organizations such as Iris Cambodia, IJM Canada and Globalact - groups on the front lines in the war against human trafficking. Visit for more details.

She Has a Name is in select UK cinemas from June 17th.