Back to reality IV: Giving thanks

Posted November 28

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the United States.

I spent the day with new friends in the mountains of southern California, while the first snows tumbled down through the pines outside. 

It's been one year since I stepped away from the disadvantaged communities of northern Vietnam in order to complete Sisters For Sale, our feature-length anti-trafficking documentary. 

While it's been a long, strange year of constant challenges, difficult decisions and unexpected relocations, there's a lot to be thankful for. 

I have my life, my friends, food on the table and a solid roof over my head. 

I'm thankful for those of you who have supported me in various ways  through the turbulence of these past years. 

When I returned to Asia to delve into the strange and terrifying world of human trafficking, my life lost all certainty and all familiarity, with the few visible landmarks shifting constantly around me. 

While my life now teeters over the void of uncertainty once more, I'm especially thankful for those of you who have provided a constant, comforting presence through all the challenging times. 

Above all, I'm thankful for my friend Tracey, my brother Nick and my mother Sue, who have shared in, and supported me through, countless trials I've never even mentioned here.

Over the past weeks, I've been sharing some of my favourite documentaries, including some emotionally intense and intellectually engaging films. 

Today, in keeping with the holiday theme, I have some lighter recommendations. 

There are great documentaries capturing all facets of life - including many small, strange and often hilarious stories that might otherwise remain untold.  

Some of these stories are so weird and wonderful that you'll be left shaking your head, and wondering what to believe. 

(If you can't see the videos embedded below, click here). 


In Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop, what begins as a film about the global street art movement soon twists into something entirely unexpected. 

It is simple serendipity, or an incredibly complex hoax? Is it even a documentary, or has Banksy outsmarted us all? Who is Mister Brainwash? 

I'll let you decide. 


Seth Gordon's The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters revolves around the fierce competition between two bitter rivals, each striving to be the best in the world... at Donkey Kong. 

While there are few subjects that interest me less than arcade games, The King Of Kong is a hilariously absurd melodrama in which every character seems to be a caricature of themselves. 

You'll be drawn in despite yourself, as underdog and all-round nice guy Steve challenges the scheming, underhanded champion Billy, who will go to any lengths to defend his title. 


Some of you may be familiar with the concept of a "mockumentary" - a fictional film masquerading as a documentary. 

For me, the term has always been synonymous with Rob Reiner's 1984 comedy This Is Spinal Tap, the story of a ludicrous, ageing heavy metal band struggling for stardom - or even a little bit of attention.

Sacha Gervasi's Anvil! The Story Of Anvil is essentially the same story - only the band is real, and their 30-year struggle to hang onto their dreams is surprisingly moving. 

Why am I writing about documentaries? 

Because, next time you're looking for something to watch, I hope you'll pick one up, and sink your teeth into something real and more satisfying than the typical Hollywood bubblegum. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the documentaries I've mentioned, or any others that have moved you. 


Many people have been asking me where they can see Sisters For Sale after its release next year. 

I haven't yet decided how the film will be made available: at this point, the only way to be sure of seeing Sisters For Sale is by pre-ordering it through the website

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