Seven years ago, independent filmmaker Jonathan Fung, who lives, works, and worships in Santa Clara, attended a global leadership summit in Chicago that changed the focus of his camera and his life.
“When I heard Gary Haugen (founder and president of International Justice Mission) talk about human trafficking, it made me start to think, 'What could I do?'”
“I saw footage of two Cambodian girls–sisters–being sold into slavery, and all I could think is 'My daughter is the same age–four.' I was outraged. I asked God, 'Is there something I could do?'”
Fung, a deacon at Santa Clara First Baptist Church, found the answer to his question through prayer, self–education and involvement with those already fighting human trafficking, which includes forced labor, domestic servitude and the sex trade, and is a $32 billion dollar business worldwide. The San Francisco Bay Area has been identified by the FBI as one of the top 13 places in the U.S. for child sex trafficking.
“I decided I should use my gifts and talents and skills in filmmaking and the arts to spread awareness and educate others. That was something I already knew how to do. So I shifted my focus in film to spotlight human trafficking,” says Fung, who has taught filmmaking at Santa Clara University since 2009.
“Hark,” Fung's 15–minute award–winning fictional film about human trafficking, premiered on campus in June 2012. The most recent of his films on this issue, it is the story of a man's moral dilemma as he chooses whether to save his own life or to risk that of another.
“It's amazingly powerful,” commented a viewer at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, where Fung presented the film this past January during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month.
In 2013, “Hark” was an official selection to the Festival du Cannes Court Metrage and was named the Best Narrative Short Film by the Third World Indie Film Festival, the Wine Country Film Festival and the Awareness Film Festival. Fung received the Award for Best Director for Creative Excellence from CreaTV in San Jose in 2014. He is now making a feature–length screenplay based on “Hark.”
In July 2014, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office received funding to create a human trafficking task force, and Fung has been commissioned to recreate a public art installation about human trafficking entitled “Peep.” He originally created “Peep” as a part of “Nonuments,” a public arts exhibition in Washington, D.C. Sept. 6– Oct. 5, 2014.
“Peep” was a 20–foot metal shipping container, one of the symbols of global trade, including the trade of humans. Through portholes, one could look inside to see wooden toy blocks with photos of trafficked children and hear the of constant hum of rows of electric sewing machines, symbolizing forced factory labor.
Coinciding with Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on Feb. 7, 2016, “Peep” will be on display in San Jose beginning in January 2016. Though human trafficking is a year–round business, activity spikes during events such as the Super Bowl.
“We think we need to have special abilities to fight for equal rights for others. We just need to have a heart to serve and to want to help others. We all have something we're good at, and we can use that skill and talent to overcome social injustice,” says Fung, a third generation Chinese–American who was born in San Francisco, raised in Cupertino and graduated from Lynbrook High School.
To view “Hark” online or contact Fung to arrange for a viewing at your place of worship, service organization, or school, visitwww.harkthemovie.com. For information about the Santa Clara County Human Traffic Task Force, visit www.sccgov.org/sites/sheriff/Pages/humantrafficking.aspx. The Community Solutions 24 Hour Crisis Line is 408–683–4118.