Quiet Storm, Emma Thompson Debut Jarring PSA

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Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson stars in an unsettling new PSA aimed at driving legislation to fight human trafficking.

Shot by Quiet Storm's Steven Sander in collaboration with The Body Shop and the Helen Bamber Foundation, the viral shows Thompson from the view of her assailant as she is subjected to forcible, rough sex. Throughout the spot, she relates two sets of memories, those of Elena, a good girl full of hope and optimism toward the future and those of Maria, a numbed prostitute who is often forced into as many as 40 sex acts daily. As the film finishes, Thompson reveals Maria and Elena are the same—a before and after snapshot at a life destroyed.

"It's quite horrific what goes on, and I think [the United Kingdom is] the worst offender in Europe," says Quiet Storm executive producer Kate Pirouet. Pirouet says in Britain criminals who formerly focused on drug distribution now trade in humans, as the penalties if caught are, incredibly, more lenient.

Emma Thompson (right) and Sam Roddick
Emma Thompson (right) and Sam Roddick Credit: Caroline Purday
This isn't Quiet Storm's first work with the Helen Bamber Foundation. Pirouet came into contact with Sam Roddick, the daughter of the late Body Shop founder and well-known activist Anita Roddick, though a friend. When Sam asked Pirouet to help organize a project this summer, The Journey was born. The installation, which sat in London's Trafalgar Square, simulated the experiences of a trafficked woman. The project was publicized through protests around London, including a horse-drawn funeral carriage with the phrase "Sex Slave" spelled out in flowers.

Entering The Bedroom
Entering The Bedroom Credit: Peter Payne
Quiet Storm also enlisted director Trevor Robinson to design a container, called The Bedroom, a disgusting hovel with a curtain made of condoms featuring a squeaking bed, moans and filthy smells of urine, sex and cheap perfume. (Follow the link for a 360-degree tour) Through its work with The Journey, Quiet Storm attracted the eye of Thompson, who asked the company to collaborate with her for a viral/webfilm project.

Pirouet says the team met Thompson on a Sunday, the only time she could get away from her current project, Last Chance Harvey, with Dustin Hoffman. After Thompson made them all breakfast, the group quickly concepted the film and shot it in a few hours. "She's a real inspiration to work with," says Pirouet. "We just shot it in one of her rooms in her home."

Quickly cut together by Sander, the viral went live three days later, on the day of Anita Roddick's memorial service in London.

Apart from spreading the message about trafficking, the participants hope to drive viewers to petitions, online and in Body Shop stores, which will grant reprieve from deportation for 30 days for women arrested when brothels are busted and sex gang rings are broken up. Currently, they're incarcerated and shipped home; the Helen Bamber foundation is seeking time to counsel and help as well as convince the U.K. government to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The foundation is also selling postcards in Body Shops, and hopes to take The Journey on the road throughout Europe.To discuss this article, visit the Creativity Forums.
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