Fair Trade is a fifteen minute short film from German director Michael Dreher. It is set in Spain and Morocco.
It’s not the most incomprehensible film I’ve ever seen, but it is one of those where things aren’t spelled out, there’s not a lot of dialogue, things are just kind of hinted at, etc. How much of the obscurity is artistic intent, how much is weak filmmaking, and how much is my own lack of discernment, I am not able to say.
Always with the caveat that I may be misinterpreting some things, the film is about a European woman seeking to buy a baby (probably Arab–the transaction takes place in Morocco, and though the mother is only shown briefly, she looks like she’s an Arab, or some similar ethnicity) on the black market. The middlemen collect half the money and take her to see the baby, she approves, though she has misgivings when she sees the distraught mother wailing about losing her child, and after dark the middlemen take the baby with them on a small boat and set off for Europe. They dump the baby overboard to drown it on the way, and then they meet up with the woman and tell her they’ll have to find another baby for her to buy. She thinks it’s because they changed their mind about taking it away from the mother, and says with relief that that’s the decision she reached as well, that she doesn’t want to separate that baby from the mother.
I’m fairly sure of all that. I’m not sure of at least a couple of things, though one I can take a guess at. And that is, why did they kill the baby? It’s possible that’s what they intended to do all along–just take the money and disappear without delivering the baby–but in that case there’s no reason for them to meet up with the woman afterwards to tell her they’d have to get a new baby. It’s not like they are telling the woman she needs to come up with more money.
So more likely, drowning the baby was the fallback. It happens when they encounter another vessel, so maybe the implication is that that other vessel was some kind of Coast Guard or something, and so they dumped the evidence that they were smuggling a baby.
The other thing, though, is why would they have the mother present when they show the purchaser the baby? How can that do anything but potentially queer the deal, the way she was screaming bloody murder and lunging for her child? Even if the woman wanted to meet her, why not have someone else stand in and pretend to be the mother?
A lesser question is, is it really that hard to adopt a non-white baby that you have to buy one on the black market? I thought the complaint was there’s always a shortage of people willing to adopt such babies. (Maybe the implication is she was turned down when she tried to go through legal channels because she’s unfit in some way, but that would be pure speculation, as I don’t think anything like that is said or implied.)
Anyway, aside from the fact that it’s a struggle to make sense of some of it, it’s mildly interesting. It’s worth the fifteen minutes it takes to watch.