Issue-oriented films are a tricky business. Too often the message comes before the filmmaking and they both end up suffering. Ron Krauss’ short film Amexica, which humanizes the disturbing phenomenon of human trafficking, is the rare film that works pretty well on both levels. Nicely shot on 35mm and convincingly performed by Joseph Ferrante and Annalynne McCord, it’s as good as any of last year’s live-action short film Oscar nominees. Amexica still puts issue first and filmmaking second, but it achieves a remarkable balance.

Ferrante and McCord play a couple of LA scam artists who “rent” a poor Mexican boy to use for their own disturbing advantage. The boy is a mute stand in for the uncounted numbers of people, especially women and children, who slip through society’s cracks and wind up exploited for labor and/or for sex around the world every day.

Amexica has won several awards along the film festival circuit including the Mexico International Film Festival, the Honolulu International Film Festival and the Malibu International Film Festival. It will be making an Oscar qualifying run this weekend at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.

For more information on the subject of human slavery, visit the website for The Project to End Human Trafficking (PEHT).

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