To the credit of producers Guy Jacobson and Adi Ezroni, “Holly” is not “Pretty Baby.” Although it’s a movie about child prostitution, there’s no nudity, sex, or violence or Hollywood glitz. The gritty and realistic feel of the movie and the sordid world of child sexual trafficking results from the fact that it was shot on location in Camodia, with many scenes filmed in actual brothels.

The story itself concerns Patrick (Ron Livingston), a ne’er-do-well low-grade card shark who works on the side in stolen artifacts, until he meets the 12-year-old Holly (Thuy Nguyen). Holly’s been sold by her impoverished Vietnamese peasant family and smuggled into Cambodia. Her initial market value is tied directly to negotiating the price of her virginity a la “Pretty Baby,” but that’s where the similarities end.

The movie depicts sobering realities of Phnom Penh’s red light district and the depressing plight of those in the grips of the world’s largest illegal money-making enterprise. Producer Jacobson, who is among other things a former Israeli Intelligence officer, spoke after I viewed the film Saturday, June 7 at the Drexel Grandview, and pointed out the shocking fact that the revenue generated by human trafficking – which he prefers to call child sexual exploitation – exceeds the illegal drug and arms trade. Jacobson and Ezroni literally put their lives at risk in producing what is more like a docu-drama than a Hollywood flick. In the course of shooting in Cambodia, they were threatened several times by the government as well as the Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Chinese Mafia, according to Jacobson.

The monumental importance of the film, and why it’s a must see, is that its sparked a global human rights campaign, called the Redlight Children campaign. Information can be found at Redlight Children, as well as the website. Local anti-child sexual exploitation activists present at the film showing handed out literature on Gracehaven, a place for former victims to heal and be safe. Gracehaven

This Wednesday, June 18 from 7-9pm, a talk will be given at the Vineyard multipurpose room entitled “Do you know human trafficking happens in Columbus Ohio?”