Buoyancy - IFFAM - 4th International Film Festival and Awards ‧ Macao

Australia | 2019 | 93’ | DCP | Colour | Khmer, Thai | Group: C
Director: Rodd Rathjen

2019/12/08 21:45 Macao Cultural Centre Small Auditorium

Programmer’s Note

The power of Buoyancy lies in how a horrific true story of human trafficking can simultaneously and effectively function as the personal coming of age tale of a charismatic young man. Indeed the transformation of Chakra (poignantly played by Sarm Heng) from a boy filled with hope for a better future to a young man fighting for survival in a dog-eat-dog world, is mesmerizing and heartbreaking. Roth Rathjen not only delivers a debut film highlighting the very urgent problem of modern slavery, but showcases himself as an assured filmmaker of significant potential. He is ably assisted by cinematographer Michael Latham who magnificently captures incongruous moments of spectacular beauty – the Cambodian countryside and vast ocean expanses – amid scenes of hardship, abject violence and brutality on the fishing vessel. The film won the Ecumenical Jury award in Berlinale this year.

– Lorna Tee


Deep in rural Cambodia 14 year-old Chakra works the rice fields with his family. He yearns for independence and seeks out a broker who can get him paid work in a Thai factory. Without telling his family, Chakra travels to Bangkok to make his fortune. After a grueling journey across the border with other Cambodians, Chakra finally arrives in Thailand. But there he and fellow Cambodian Kea realise that the Broker has lied to them. He sells Chakra and Kea as slaves to a fishing captain. Trapped at sea indefinitely, they are forced to work 22 hours a day trawling trash fish and surviving on a handful of cold rice. The ruthless captain quickly weeds out those slaves weakened by the conditions or trying to escape, and throws them overboard. Schooled in brutality and with nothing to lose, Chakra starts to understand what it will take to attain freedom.


Rodd Rathjen

Rodd Rathjen is an Australian writer/director born on in 1981. He completed a Bachelor of Film and Television from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2010. His first short film Tau Seru (2013) was shot in India and was selected as part of Cannes Critics Week, also winning best Australian short at the Melbourne International Film Festival. His second short film Sweat (2015) starred Colin Friels. Buoyancy is his debut feature film and had its world premiere in the Panorama section of the Berlinale in Feb this year.

Cast & Crew

Director Rodd Rathjen

Scriptwriter(s) Rodd Rathjen

Producer(s) Samatha Jennings

Cinematographer Michael Latham

Production Designer Bethany Ryan

Editor Graeme Pereira

Music Lawrence English

Costumes Designer Salin Kuong

Cast Sarm Heng, Thanawut Kasro, Mony Ros, Saichia Wongwirot

Production Companies Causeway Films


World Sales Charades

International Competition