A Cambodian boy leaves his family to make a living, but ends up as a victim of human trafficking when he is enslaved on a Thai fishing trawler. Many people face this reality – it’s estimated that about 200 000 boys and men are slaves on trawlers in Southeast Asia. The Australian director Rodd Rathjen has based Buoyancy on extensive interviews with survivors from the boats, humanitarian aid organizations, and Cambodians.
Isolated at sea, the trawler is transformed into a battlefield, and the film’s atmosphere escalates into a brutal demonstration of human survival instinct. With its sparse dialogue, the film leaves room for stunning performances from the non-professional actors. The main character Chakra, played by the young Sam Heng, has a presence and an expression so poignant, that it’s impossible not to sympathize with him even when the hopeless situation drives him to the extremes.