Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Really, Al!? You go along with this nonsense? You terminate a filmmaker’s career for being ‘unreasonable’?
20th Feb 2017
I am an ‘unreasonable’ person!
So ‘unreasonable’ that you, your fellow Screen Australia board members and Chief Executive Graeme Mason saw fit, in May 2016, to ban me for a third time.
As for for evidence of my ‘unreasonableness’, Graeme Mason informs me that it is not in the ‘pubic interest’, through FOI, that I be provided with it!
As you know, this ban, 57 months in duration now, prohibits me from making any form of application to Screen Australia; prohibits me from meeting with, even talking on the phone with members of SA staff. Since such communication is essential when applying for the Producer Offset, it is impossible for me to do so.
And, as you also know, a filmmaker’s inability to take advantage of the Producer Offset makes it virtually impossible for him/her to work as an Australian filmmaker - as I have been since 1972.
To the best of my knowledge no other filmmaker in the Western world has been banned by a government film body since the days of Joe Mc Carthy – more than half a century ago. This observation, my use of the word ‘MsCarthysim’ in relation to Screen Australia’s ban, is now presented to me by SA as one of the reasons why I need to be banned! (Other reasons include my reference to Screen Australia’s ban as “childish, stupid and counter-productive”.)
Really, Al!? You go along with this nonsense? You terminate a filmmaker’s career for being ‘unreasonable’? For using words such as ‘childish’, ‘stupid’ and ‘counter-productive’?
The ostensible reason for the original ban, of course, was that I intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff in my correspondence prior to May 2012. (What does ‘at risk’ mean?) And, whilst ‘intimidated’ and ‘placed at risk’ are no longer used, Screen Australia clings desperately to the notion that for SA staff to meet with me in person would place them at some kind of risk! Of what? Physical violence? Verbal aggression?
No evidence that I pose a risk of any kind has ever been presented to me, but my repeated requests that I be provided with evidence is viewed by Screen Australia as harassment and cited as another reason to ban me! This is Monty Pythonesque; more Kafkaesque than Kafka!
Screen Australia can only justify its close to five year ban on me now by perpetuating the lie that I am an intimidating filmmaker who makes Screen Australia staff quake in their shoes at the very thought of having to sit in the same room with me to discuss a film or TV project – be it script development, project development or an application by myself and my creative collaborators to access the Producer Offset.
Have you ever, Al, been presented with any evidence that SA staff meeting with me would place them at risk? No, you have not. In the four or so decades that we have both been making films in Australia have you ever heard on the grapevine that I have behaved in a way that would make staff in any film funding body feel that they were at risk?
Why do you and your fellow board members go along with this nonsense?
How do you keep a straight face in board meetings when Graeme Mason tells you that the ban on me must be extended as a result of my ‘unreasonableness’; of the threat I pose to SA staff?
You have failed in your duty of care, as a board member, to protect your fellow filmmakers from the kind of bureaucratic bullying and practiced by Ruth Harley, Fiona Cameron and Graeme Mason. The purpose of the Screen Australia ban was not only to inflict as much damage as possible to my career but also to send a message to other filmmakers:
“Do not criticize Screen Australia in public, do not ask questions we do not wish to answer, or you’ll suffer the same fate as James Ricketson. We will crush you.”
Screen Australia has been successful on both counts. My career as an Australian filmmaker is finished and my fellow filmmakers have been intimidated into silence. And neither IF Magazine nor the Australian Director’s Guild (reliant on SA funding for its survival) dare even report, as news, on my ban. If Magazine even refuses to publish a paid-for ‘open letter’ from me. This can be found at:
What has happened to me is, of course, very annoying, frustrating and distressing. What is more significant for Australian film and TV, however, is that Australia’s peak film funding body is run by men and women who think that the most appropriate way to deal with criticism is to shoot the messenger.
I have never had any reason, Al, to doubt your personal or professional integrity. However, your lack of any response to my previous letters (over a two year period), your refusal (along with your fellow board members) to provide me with evidence of my alleged offenses, makes me wonder!
If you are in possession of any evidence that I pose a risk to Screen Australia staff please make it public and reveal me to be both a cad and a liar.
Alternatively, if you believe that the banning of a filmmaker on the basis of false allegations is wrong, and if you cannot talk your fellow board members into seeing how unfair, unjust, this is, you should resign from the Screen Australia board.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
The second episode of a 10 hour thriller series - formerly with Australian characters in the key roles.
Screen Australia refuses to read or assess NEST OF VIPERS with me on the grounds that SA staff would be placed at risk sitting in the same room to discuss it with me!
No evidence has been provided to me in support of this proposition – for the simple reason that it is a lie.
1 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
In a music over montage Monkey, wearing a white bath robe, undergoes a radical makeover:
- The Elegant Khmer Woman and Three Maids use heated instruments to curl Monkey’s long hair.
- The Elegant Khmer Woman, seen in a mirror, lipstick in hand, looks at the reflection of herself and young Monkey, whose now wavy hair falls below her shoulders.
- Monkey catches glimpses of herself in a mirror nearby.
- The Elegant Khmer Woman applies lipstick to Monkey’s lips.
- Monkey looks in wonder at the reflection of herself.
- Elegant Khmer Woman attaches false eye-lashes to Monkey.
With lipstick and make up Monkey is being transformed from an 11 year old girl into a young woman. Monkey is amazed by the process. The happy smile on her face gets wider and wider.
2 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. NIGHT
Angela, in the passenger seat, looks at Nick, a little distance from his car talking to Armed Guards # 1 & # 2. We do not hear what he is saying but can see him pointing to Angela and patting his stomach. Armed Guard smiles, nods; looks towards Angela for a moment.
Angela’s mobile phone announces the arrival of a text message. She glances at it; then back at Nick and the ARMED GUARDS.
Armed Guard # 2 walks around to the passenger door and gestures to Angela with his AK 47 to get out of the car.
Angela gets out, stands alongside Nick.
3 EXT. CAR. NICK’S 4WD. NIGHT
Nick puts his arms around her shoulder, kisses her cheek.
It’ll be OK.
Angela is frightened. Nick pats her stomach, smiles at Armed Guard # 1. Guard # 1 confers with Guard # 2; looks at Nick and Angela. Nick smiles.
Guard # 2 points with the barrel of his AK 47 at the back door of Nick’s 4WD; indicates to Guard # 1 to look inside.
Guard # 1 unclips the flashlight hanging from his belt, shines it through the rear window.
Nick addresses Guard # 2 as Guard # 1 opens the rear door.
Do you speak English?
Guard # 2 stares at Nick; seems not to have understood him.
Guard # 1 shines his flashlight on two large oil-stained plastic containers resting on the floor. He runs his fingers around the rim of the screw-on cap of one, lifts his fingers to his nose; sniffs. Nick speaks in Khmer.
Guard # 2 walks around to the front passenger’s door; opens it; addresses Guard # 1 in Khmer.
ARMED GUARD # 2 (subtitled)
Look under the seat.
GUARD # 1 walks around, kneels on the road, feels under the passenger seat.
Angela tries to hide her fear. Nick holds her hand tightly; acts as though he is unperturbed by what is going on.
Guard # 1’s hand has found something under the seat but he can’t get a firm grip on it.
Nick finds it hard to maintain his innocent, perplexed smile.
Guard # 1 extracts a half full bottle of Port.
Guard # 2 leans in through the driver’s door; feels under the seat; pulls out an old pizza box; opens it. There are a couple of slices of dried up pizza in it.
Nick smiles, shrugs; holds Angela tight - doing a pretty good job of acting nonchalant.
Guard # 2 shines his torch on the glove compartment, instructs Armed Guard # 1
ARMED GUARD # 1 (subtitled)
Guard # 2 tries to open the glove compartment. He cannot.
The key is lost.
Guard # 1 moves around the car, pushes Armed Guard # 2 out of the way, raises his AK 47 in preparation to smash the glove compartment. Nick speaks assertively:
Nick takes out his wallet, takes a $100 note from it, hands it to Guard # 2.
Guard # 2 looks at the money for a moment; signals to Nick to hand over his wallet. Nick does so.
Guard # 2 takes it, removes all the money from the wallet, hands it back to Nick; indicates with his AK 47 that he and Angela should get back into the car and leave.
Nick nods. He and Angela are in the process of getting back into the car when Guard # 2’s voice is heard off.
GUARD # 2 (subtitled)
Nick and Angela turn towards him. There is a flash. Guard # 2 has taken their photo with a small digital camera which he then tucks back into his pocket.
Guard # 2 nods to Guard #1, turns and walks off. Guard # 1 is holding the bottle of Port. Nick calls out.
Guards # 1 & 2 turn as Nick walks up. He points to the bottle of Port, then to himself; speaks forcefully.
Armed Guard # 1 hands him the bottle.
4 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Monkey looks at her reflection in the mirror as the Elegant Khmer Woman powders her face.
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
You are a very beautiful young woman.
5 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. NIGHT
As Nick drives off, his eyes on the palatial home in the rear-vision mirror, Angela hits the dashboard hard with her fist.
Delivered! Like a fucking parcel. It makes me so...
Nick hands Angela his mobile phone.
Call Meas for me. M E A S...
Angela looks at the screen of Nick’s mobile.
You realize that your battery’s almost flat.
I need a new phone.
6 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Monkey now looks like (and could pass for) a very beautiful 16 year old - from the shoulders up. She speaks in Khmer:
Am I going to a wedding?
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
No, we just want you to look beautiful.
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
Because you are going to meet a very important person.
7 INT. NICK’S 4WD. NIGHT
Angela takes her camera from the glove compartment.
Nick drives; holding his mobile to his ear.
Meas, I need your help...
8 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Close on Monkey, looking at a reflection of made-up self in the mirror chattering excitedly as she is dressed.
When I grow up I want to be a doctor and a hairdresser and have my own beauty salon...
Monkey admires the reflection of herself in the mirror; wearing the white neck-to-knee dress.
I want to make a lot of money so that I can take care of my mother and send my brothers to school...
9 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. NIGHT
Angela looks at photos on the screen of her camera.
Monkey getting out of the white car.
Eleven. Twelve maybe.
Hello...Meas! Can you hear me?
Nick pulls to the side of the road; gets out.
Meas! You there? (A BEAT) Yes, a
young girl ‘delivered’ to...you got a pen...
Close on Angela as Nick walks away for the 4 WD; his voice fading. She is in shock.
A ping announces the arrival of a text message. Angela glances at the screen; decides to ignore the message.
10 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
The Elegant Khmer Woman holds Monkey’s hand; leads her towards the door.
When can I go home?
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
Soon, darling. Soon.
11 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. NIGHT
Angela looks anxiously out the window at Nick, 10 or so meters from the 4 WD talking animatedly on his mobile.
She receives another text message on her phone:
Where are you?
Angela thinks for a moment, writes a response:
Be there soon.
Angela’s phone rings. She looks at the screen; decides not to take the call; writes a text message instead.
Can’t talk right now. Sorry. Am tied up.
Nick can be seen in the background finishing his phone call as a ping announces the arrival of a new text message:
With ropes? Or silk scarves?
As Nick gets back into the 4 WD Angela turns her mobile face down in her lap.
Meas is onto it.
12 INT. HALLWAY. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
Monkey and the Elegant Khmer Woman walk down a hallway lined with Chinese antique furniture, ceramic vases, paintings, silk wall hangings and other expensive art works.
13 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. NIGHT
Nick and Angela sit in the front seat.
And he’s identified the owner of the head.
A ping announces the arrival of a text message. Angela ignores it. Nick rummages under the driver’s seat; can’t find what he is looking for. He looks at Angela.
Angela manages the beginnings of a smile; slips her hand inside the front of her jeans; pulls out the camera. Nick laughs.
13 INT. STAIRWELL. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
Monkey’S POV as she and Elegant Khmer Woman make their way up a spiral marble stairway lined with huge antique Chinese vases.
Close on Monkey’s face; taking in her surroundings - her eyes wide-eyed in wonder.
14 INT. NICK’S 4 WD NIGHT
Nick hands his mobile to Angela. She takes it; look at:
A photo of a middle aged man surrounded by smiling children, standing in front of a building with a large sign that reads:
CHILD RESCUE CAMBODIA (CRC)
ANGELA (voice off)
You know him?
One of your vipers?
Nick nods. Angela’s attention is caught by a flashing sign on Nick’s mobile: Battery power 3%
15 INT. HALLWAY. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
Monkey stands by Elegant Khmer Woman as she knocks on a door. No response. The Elegant Khmer Woman knocks again, a little louder. A male voice is heard, speaking in French.
S'il vous plaît venir
16 INT. BEDROOM. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
The door opens. The Elegant Khmer Woman, holding Monkey’s hand, stand in the entrance. The Elegant Khmer Woman leans close to Monkey; whispers:
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (SUBTITLED)
Smile. You must smile.
Monkey tries her best to smile.
17 INT. NICK’S 4 WD NIGHT
Angela hands Nick’s mobile back to him. He slips it into the top pocket of his shirt.
My heart is still....boom, boom, boom...Fuck!
She places her hand on her heart.
18 INT. BEDROOM. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
On the flip out screen of a video camera Monkey can be seen standing in front of the door as it is pulled closed. She is very frightened.
A man’s hand appears in frame, beckons to Monkey to approach. She walks up - slowly, tentatively.
ANGELA (voice over)
Makes my blood boil.
The hand points to the bed, makes a patting gesture.
Monkey sits - her eyes wide open with fear.
19 INT. NICK’S 4 WD NIGHT
Angela and Nick sit in the front seat of the 4WD.
That poor girl.
Nick makes a trigger-pulling gesture with his hand.
If it was my call...
The faint sounds of police sirens intrude. Angela sits bolt upright, looks behind her:
Through the rear windscreen two police cars can be seen heading towards them - lights flashing; sirens blaring.
Angela turns back to Nick - relieved; her eyes glistening. She holds up both hands; fingers crossed. Nick does likewise.
Angela wraps her arms around Nick; hugs him tight. Tears roll down her cheeks.
A ping announces the arrival of a text message. Angela pulls away from the hug but ignores the text message.
I hope they got there in time.
Nick nods, turns on the ignition; starts the 4 WD.
Another ping. Nick looks at her questioningly.
At this hour!?
I don’t want to be a slave to....
She holds up her mobile. Nick smiles.
20 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick pours white wine into two glasses resting alongside his mobile phone; talks to Angela, standing in front of the collage; camera in hand.
Angela’s attention is on a photo of Lindsay Henderson.
Nick walks up with two glasses of wine.
Lindsay has a penchant for teen girls...
He hands Angela a glass of wine.
I’ll show you.
Nick sits at his desk; activates his computer.
And fell out with his partner...
Terry something or other?
Nick points to photo of red-haired Terry Swinton.
Angela follows the coloured threads connecting photos of Lindsay Henderson and Terry Swinton.
Angela is also interested in the threads that connect Lindsay and Terry with Gerard - holding aloft his UN Award.
Drug deal. They arrested the dealers then stole the drugs and sold them. Big money. And then the money was stolen by Russian mafia. At gunpoint. Or so Terry reckoned. Lindsay accused Terry of arranging the ‘robbery’ with the Russians... Vladimir...up there in the corner.
Nick points to a photo of Vladimir.
You think Terry might have killed Lindsay?
Lindsay was telling anyone who would listen that Terry couldn’t be trusted, so...but choking him to death on his own genitals!? Don’t think Terry would do that. More Quong Tran’s style.
He points to a photo of Quong Tran.
Angela follows coloured threads radiating out from Quong Tran as Nick opens a folder onscreen entitled LINDSAY HENDERSON.
Angela leans forward, looks at a series of low resolution (covertly taken) photos of:
Lindsay Henderson talking with three scantily clad teenage girls in ‘Pussy Galore’ girlie bar.
ANGELA (voice off)
Lindsay with two teenage girls sitting in his lap.
NICK (voice off)
Fifteen, sixteen, but they’d have ID that says 18.
Lindsay, holding the hands of two girls, seen from behind, walking down a deserted rubbish-strewn alleyway. A defective neon sign reads “ROO S 4 RENT”
‘Roos for rent’!?
A few dollars for an hour.
Angela shakes her head.
I never had quite enough to expose him...mostly circumstantial, rumour, scuttlebutt.
As Nick traces threads radiating from the photo of Lindsay to the one Gerard, Angela readies the camera to shoot.
Lindsay was well connected politically, so...
Black and red threads connect Lindsay with Mr Wing Chou.
And this guy?
As Nick turns to face her, Angela takes a photo.
Mr Wing Chou, Singaporean billionaire...fingers in all sorts of pies...casinos, hotel developments, palm oil pkantations...well connected politically...with close ties to...
Nick points to the photo of Quong Tran. Click. Another photo.
Quong Tran, who is...
Well connected politically?
Nick rubs his fingers together: “Money”
They’re all well-connected politically.
Angela points to the framed photo, with cracked glass, resting beside Nick’s laptop, of:
Two smiling teenage boys, each with an arm around the other’s shoulder and each carrying a tennis racket.
My brother. Alistair.
A ping from Angela’s mobile: a text message. She ignores it.
Nick picks up the photo, points to the shorter boy.
You look very close?
Nick makes a non-committal gesture.
Nick holds his hands up: “Don’t want to talk about it.”
Angela nods: “OK”
Ping. Another text message for Angela. Nick laughs.
At this hour!?
You’re a pain in the arse, you know that, don’t you?
Partner? Husband? Lover? Significant Other? Friend with Benefits? Or...”A woman is entitled to her secrets”?
You got the ‘secrets’ part right.
Nick smiles; holds up his hands: “Fair enough”
Angela hesitates a moment, flips her mobile over; reads the message:
Call me when you can. Missing you. X
Nick watches Angela’s reaction closely. She has mixed feelings about the message.
Her eyes meet Nick’s for a long moment. She turns her mobile around; hands it to Nick. He reads the message; looks at her:
I won’t ask the obvious question.
21 EXT. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick signals to moto dop drivers sitting on their motor bikes at a nearby corner; turns to Angela, standing close to him.
Not too late to change your mind.
You’ll have to do better than that!
Nick smiles, leans forward; kisses her lightly on the lips; caresses her neck. Angela smiles. His hand drifts from her neck to her breasts as a MOTO DOP DRIVER approaches.
If I were to gently remove your clothes...
Right here, right now?
Nick undoes the top button of her shirt.
...strip your body naked......would you hold it against me?
Angela does up the button.
Goodnight, Mr Morecombe.
Goodnight Ms Partridge.
They shake hands. Angela walks to the moto dop.
I’ll call you.
Angela sits on the back of the moto dop; turns; smiles.
I’d like that. Thank you...for today.
22 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick closes the front door, walks to his desk.
He opens a drawer; rummages around; takes out a folder; removes an envelope from the folder; extracts a small purple plastic container from the envelope; opens it; takes out a camera card; inserts the card in his small video camera.
23 EXT. BAR/NIGHTCLUB DISTRICT. NIGHT
Angela, on the back of the moto dop, talks on her mobile.
It’s late. I’m tired. And I’m going home. Alone.
There are more scantily clad teenage girls outside the many ‘girlie bars’ than there are men.
A backpacking hostel is not a home. (A BEAT) I have a surprise for you.
24 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick stands in front of the Nest of Vipers collage; holds his small video camera in front of him; filming himself.
Two possibilities. A revenge killing. Lindsay, sexual predator, executed by....? Father of girl he raped? Religious zealot? Anti-pedophile campaigner?
25 EXT. PHNOM PENH STREET. NIGHT
Angela’s moto dop drives past an “Apartment for Rent” sign. She signals to the driver to stop. She gets off.
NICK (voice over)
Or payback...which makes Terry suspect numero uno.
26 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Close on photo of Terry Swinton.
NICK (voice over)
But would Terry torture his friend...former friend...to death? I doubt it. On the other hand...
Nick follows the threads connecting Terry and Quong Tran with his eyes as he films.
...he could have outsourced the job to...
27 EXT. PHNOM PENH STREET. NIGHT
Angela stands in front of a dilapidated building taking a photo with her mobile phone of an “Apartment for Rent” sign.
NICK (voice over)
28 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick talks to his small video camera
And there’s a fourth possibility, I guess. The cock-in-mouth routine is a message. “Don’t fuck with me. With us.” The question is, “Who sent the message?”
Nick puts the camera down; looks at the collage; overwhelmed.
29 INT. BACKPACKING HOSTEL. NIGHT
The foyer, dining/communal area, of a busy hostel. Backpackers eat, talk, skype, update their Facebook pages.
The moto dop pulls up in the background. Angela gets off; pays the driver; walks into the communal area. A YOUNG MAN WITH DREADLOCKS calls out; a joint in his extended hand.
Angela smiles, holds up her hands; makes an “I am tired” gesture; keeps walking.
30 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick stands in front of the Nest of Vipers collage, laptop computer in hand; thinking. His attention is focused on a large red ? at the centre - from which threads of multiple colours radiate to the other ‘vipers’.
One of these is:
Wing Chou, impeccably dressed in a white suit, standing in front of a helicopter with WCI printed on it.
Next to it, full page in colour:
Wing Chou looks directly at the camera; smiling.
WING CHOU JOINS BILLIONAIRE CLUB
Nick looks at his computer, scrolls; finds what he is looking for; places his computer on the desk; reaches for a length of red thread; uses it to connect Lindsay and Quong Tran.
31 INT. BACKPACKING HOSTEL ROOM. NIGHT
Close on a laptop computer screen, on which GLENYS, middle-aged, white Anglo-Saxon, speaks in a Brummy accent.
I don’t understand.
Angela sits cross-legged on her bed; laptop in front of her.
You don’t want to understand.
You are just doing this to hurt me.
Mum, let’s not do this!
After all I have done for you...
BRUCE, Anglo-Saxon leans into frame.
OK, you two...let’s not start on all that.
32 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick removes the card from his small camera; places it back in its purple plastic case; puts this back in an envelope, which he then slips inside a folder. He then buries the folder under papers at the back of a drawer.
33 INT. BACKPACKING HOSTEL ROOM. NIGHT
Angela lies on her bed in the dark; staring at the ceiling in her tiny room. Music and laughter emanate from a room nearby.
The sound of a mosquito. Angela tries to locate it with her eyes; hands at the ready to kill it. Clap. Missed!
Angela leaps from her bed, turns on the light, stands for a moment unsure what to do with herself. She makes a decision; turns on her laptop; sits cross-legged with it on the bed.
Close on the computer screen, a photo of:
Nick standing in front of his Nest of Vipers collage; holding the photo of himself and Alistair with tennis rackets.
Angela zooms in optically to the photo of Gerard holding aloft his United Nations Award.
Angela ponders this for a moment then pans across the photo to a close shot of young Nick and Alistair. After a moment:
Angela ‘minimizes’ the photo; goes to ‘Google’
Google Search Engine: Alistair Morecombe.
Several ‘results’ pop up.
Angela clicks on one of the ‘results’. Close on a photo of:
Alistair in a business suit. Written underneath:
Alistair (Stair) Morecombe, CEO of Morecombe Enterprises Terrestial (MET) has thrown his hat in the ring with his daring corporate raid...
Angela clicks on another icon. Onscreen, a video clip:
Alistair Morecombe is being interviewed on a breakfast TV show (“Good Morning Hawaii”) by the hostess - MARSHA.
Corporate ‘consolidator.’ All the companies under the M-E-T umbrella were good businesses. Just badly managed.
And you're a good manager?
If not the most modest!
Winning and modesty are not the best of bedmates.
A ping from Angela’s mobile announces the arrival of a text.
Angela looks at her mobile screen:
Are you awake?
You don't like to lose?
I don't know. I've never lost.
You have a lovely laugh, Marsha. (A BEAT) Am I going to get in trouble for saying that?
Another ping. Angela presses ‘pause’. Onscreen:
Alistair’s smiling face frozen
Close on Angela’s mobile. A photo of:
A bottle of Glenfiddick whisky
Angela smiles; types her response:
Its not a surprise anymore :-)
A moment later Angela’s mobile rings. She hesitates a moment before taking the call. The male voice is French-accented.
That’s not the surprise!
And wrapped in a red ribbon.
You can surprise me tomorrow.
It is not good for a man to drink alone. Or sleep alone.
Have you injured your hand?
MALE VOICE (laughs)
Are you naked?
Angela slips off her sarong.
Now, imagine that your hand is my hand caressing your breasts...
34 EXT. UP-MARKET HOUSE. NIGHT
The courtyard. GERARD, late 30s, recognizable from the photo of him holding aloft his UN Award, wears a white bathrobe.
As the tall security gate swings shut and the armed and uniformed security Guard disappears from view, Angela walks towards him; smiling. When she is a few meters from him Gerard disrobes. Angela bursts out laughing.
Gerard is naked; with only a large red ribbon tied in a bow around (and obscuring) his genitals!
35 INT. UP-MARKET HOUSE. NIGHT
Gerard, wearing only the red ribbon tied in a bow, fills two shot glasses with whisky from a bottle of Glenfiddich.
So who was tying you up?
An eccentric French woman I met tonight...
You know her?
Everyone knows Francoise! She is not eccentric! She’s mad!
He hands Angela a shot glass; picks up his own.
They toss back their whisky shots in unison. As Gerard refills their glasses:
How could you tolerate a whole evening with that woman?
I’m a very tolerant person.
Gerard hands her another shot.
FADE TO BLACK
36 INT. BEDROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAWN
A loud thumping sound.
Nick wakes up, disoriented; stumbles from bed.
37 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAWN
As he wraps his sarong around his waist, Nick walks to the front door; opens it to Angela.
Why don’t you answer your fucking phone?
38 INT. NICK’S 4WD. DAWN
As Nick pulls away from the curb, Angela plugs a re-charging cable into his mobile; connects it to a power outlet.
What kind of bad news?
He just said meet him there.
Angela brings her hands to her face; worried; upset.
Please God, no! We saw the police cars...
Nick reaches out, touches her reassuringly. She pulls away; does not want to be reassured.
39 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. DAY
Looking past Nick and Angela, through the windscreen, the palatial home looms; police cars parked outside. A POLICEMAN carrying a set of bolt-cutters turns watches their approach.
40 EXT. PALATIAL HOME. DAY
Nick and Angela burst from the 4 WD; run past the empty Guard box towards the partially open gate - until moments earlier secured with a heavy chain. The Policeman with the bolt-cutters holds up his hands to stop them. They ignore him.
41 EXT. COURTYARD. PALATIAL HOME. MORNING
Nick and Angela walk fast into the large courtyard garden in front of the palatial mansion; the Policeman close behind.
Balin Meas signals to the Policeman: “They’re OK.”
I am sorry, Mr Nicholas, I was in the provinces. I sent some men but...
They went to the wrong address.
Angela runs towards the front door.
42 INT. VESTIBULE. PALATIAL HOME. DAY
Angela rushes into the large vestibule (Entrance Hall); Nick and Balin Meas close behind. Furniture has clearly been removed at short notice. Some has been carried to the entrance but left behind. The house has clearly been abandoned with considerable haste.
43 INT. STAIRWELL. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
Nick, Angela and Balin Meas walk up the spiral marble stairway. It is no longer lined with antique Chinese vases. The remnants of one, smashed, lies in shards on the stairs.
44 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. PALATIAL HOME. DAY
Nick, Angela and Balin Meas stand in the middle of the empty girl’s bedroom. Most of the furnishings are gone. The dresser with the mirror remains and a box of make-up lies scattered on the floor; abandoned in haste. Angela readies her camera.
45 EXT. BALCONY. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
Nick walks out onto the balcony overlooking the courtyard and garden below. Police walk in and out of the yard.
Inside Balin Meas takes photos with his mobile phone. He finishes doing so; walks out onto the balcony.
I am sorry I was not in Phnom Penh. These men...!
He gestures to the Police in the courtyard and; by the gate.
They do not think!
Nick holds up his mobile phone.
If I had got a new battery...
Angela joins them; camera in hand.
I hope she got away. Pray God!
BALIN MEAS (nods)
You took photos?
Angela nods; scrolls through photos on her camera; hands it to Balin Meas. He looks at the photos.
You can give me copies?
46 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. DOWNTOWN PHNOM PENH. DAY
Nick and Angela, parked at the side of a busy road, sit in silence for a long moment.
Yes, but...wouldn’t the logical thing to do be...kill her? I mean she’s a witness! Whoever has that much money wouldn’t want her...
You’ll drive yourself crazy speculating...
Yes. (A BEAT) Stop, brain! (A BEAT) My brain never listens to me.
Nick smiles. They look at each other for a moment.
I should go.
Nick nods, leans forward, kisses her on the cheek. Angela hesitates for a moment before turning to get out.
Nick nods; smiles.
47 INT. CLASSROOM. DAY
Nick stands in front of a class of STUDENTS. On the white board behind him is written a few tongue-twisting sentences:
PETER PIPER PICKED A PECK OF PICKLED PEPPERS
A PECK OF PICKLED PEPPERS PETER PIPER PICKED
BETTER BOTTER BOUGHT SOME BUTTER
BUT SHE SAID THE BUTTER’S BITTER
SUSIE WORKS IN A SHOESHINE SHOP. WHERE SHE SHINES SHE SITS, AND WHERE SHE SITS SHE SHINES.
Susie works in a shoeshine shop. Where she shines she sits, and where she sits she shines.
The Students laugh at the Teenage Girl’s mispronunciations!
48 EXT. ENGLISH LANGUAGE SCHOOL. DAY
Nick drives his motor bike out of the courtyard; waves goodbye to students.
49 EXT. PHNOM PENH STREET. DAY
Nick weaves his way through busy city traffic.
50 EXT. H A C WAREHOUSE. DAY
Angela oversees the loading of boxes of donated goods onto the back of her H A C flatbed truck.
The warehouse is filled with boxes, bags and an odd assortment of donated goods - including a rocking horse and a wire-mesh container filled with used soft children’s toys.
A KHMER H A C EMPLOYEE (wearing an H A C t-shirt) loads some boxes. Angela looks closely:
Sports Energy Drink
Angela shakes her head; indicates to the Khmer H A C Employee to remove the box.
51 EXT. ‘KHMER PLUS’, CITY STREET. DAY
Nick parks his motor bike outside an office that advertises its purpose in both English and Khmer:
52 INT. KHMER PLUS. DAY
Nick walks into the offices of the KHMER PLUS. There are SEVERAL MEN from the provinces waiting to be served.
BOPHA, mid 30s, sitting at a desk, interviewing a man, notes Nick’s arrival, leaps to her feet and walks out of the room.
The Men all look at Nick. He smiles back at them.
A moment later BOPHA and TERRY SWINTON - red-haired, face flushed red - burst into the office.
Terry! Do you have any...
Get the fuck out of here, Morecombe.
Do you have any comment to make about the murder of Lindsay Henderson?
No, now fuck off.
You leave motherfuck!
She pushes Nick aggressively.
I guess it solves a lot of your problems...with Lindsay dead?
Terry steps close to Nick.
Solve a lot of our problems if you were dead, Morecombe.
Should I take that as a threat?
Yes. Now fuck off.
53 INT. SMALL APARTMENT. EVENING
Angela stands in the middle of a small unfurnished apartment with a KHMER WOMAN and TWO CHILDREN. She walks out onto a small balcony overlooking the street; turns back to the Khmer Woman, smiles; indicates her ‘yes’ with an upturned thumb.
54 INT.LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Francoise points a long sharp knife at a photo of Lindsay Henderson in Nick’s Nest of Vipers collage.
Je connais zis Lindsay. I meet ‘im one time. Wiz you, Neekolas, remember?
Nick laughs as he hands Angela a glass of white wine.
Neekolas peux t dire ‘zis story.
Francoise laughs, returns to the kitchen area where she is midway through the preparation of a meal.
It was a hot night in Phnom Penh. I was having drinks with Lindsay, Terry and others at the ‘Liar’s Table’...
Nick holds up his hand: “Wait”.
And I saw this vision of female beauty - a tall French woman...Grande femme française with an air of calm and serenity about her...avec un air de calme et de sérénité.
Francoise laughs; slices an onion with her knife.
55 EXT. ‘PUSSY GALORE’. NIGHT
Francoise, eccentrically dressed, mobile held to her ear, gesticulates wildly as she talks on the sidewalk in a Bar and Club district in Phnom Penh.
NICK (voice over)
Lindsay and Terry were both working for the FBI...
Nick, his eyes on Francoise closeby, sits with LINDSAY HENDERSON, late 40s, Terry Swinton, BRAD, mid 30s and OTHER MEN and a few scantily clad BARGIRLS.
NICK (voice over)
...or Homeland Security! The stories kept changing. Hence the ‘Liar’s Table’ and had just opened their girlie bar...”Pussy Galore”...
Bopha places two jugs of beer on the table.
NICK (voice over)
Terry’s girfriend, Bopha, had the lease but they put up the money, called the shots.
Lindsay, drunk, has a Bargirl sitting on either side of him.
NICK (voice over)
Lindsay, who liked to sample the ‘merchandise’, had a difficult choice to make.
Lindsay, drunk, points to several Bargirls in turn:
(Points to another)
(Points to another)
(Points to another)
Francoise’s loud voice is heard over.
FRANCOISE (voice over)
56 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick and Angela turn to Francoise in the kitchen area:
She holds up a zucchini; slices it in half with her knife.
57 EXT. ‘PUSSY GALORE’. NIGHT
Lindsay, his arms around two Bargirls, slurs his words.
Think I’ll fuck ‘em all.
I think you not keep it up old man.
She makes a ‘drooping’ gesture with her finger.
Got that covered, Bopha!
He pulls a packet of Viagra out of his shirt pocket.
Going for a world record, eh, buddy?
Terry addresses the others at the table:
How many women can he fuck in one night?
Three, so far, but I reckon I can do four.
Terry thinks this is hilarious. BRAD, US military buzz cut hair, does not. He speaks with a Southern accent:
Why’d ya’ll wanna do that?
Coz life’s short, buddy. Eat, drink...
Like your dick, Lin?
You men no good!
Close on Brad, po-faced, as he sips his glass of water.
ANGELA (voice over)
Brad’s eyes are on Lindsay; whom he clearly does not like.
Nick’s eyes are on Francoise, talking on her mobile’ her eyes on the ‘Liar’s Table’.
58 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Francoise throws vegetables into a flaming wok. Nick and Angela stand closeby; glasses of wine in hand.
From ‘Passports’ at the US Embassy. Probably CIA.
And I see all zis. And zis ‘ansome man Neekolas, ‘is eye on me. (Nick smiles) And I sink I ‘ave some fun ‘ere.
59 EXT. ‘PUSSY GALORE’. NIGHT
Francoise’s eyes are on the Lindsay as she finishes her phone conversation. Lindsay notices her. She smiles shyly at him.
Lindsay waves to Francoise: “Join us”.
Francoise’s face lights up with a smile as she walks up.
Lindsay nudges one of the Bargirls aside.
She smiles sweetly at each of the men and at the Bargirls.
Bienvenue, et quel est votre nom
Lindsay pats the seat beside him; indicates to her to sit. She does so.
I’m Lindsay, this is Terry, Brad and Nick. What’s your poison, darling?
Whatever you’re drinking, darling.
Francoise rests her hand on his thigh. Lindsay enjoys the attention; puffs his chest out a little.
Je ne pouvais pas m'empêcher de remarquer comme je parlais...
She couldn’t help but notice you as she was talking...
Zat you are zee most ‘andsome man I have see all day.
Lindsay is pleased to hear this; beams proudly.
Je me pose une question about zis ‘andsome man.
(Lindsay nods, smiles)
I ask myself pourquoi zis man carry zee Viagra in ‘is pocket. Pourquoi!?
She reaches out; takes the strip of Viagra from Lindsay’s shirt pocket.
Lindsay is not sure how to react to this. Nick and the others at the table watch as Francoise pops a purple pill from the strip; holds it out to Lindsay; smiling sweetly.
Lindsay can’t figure out what is going on. Francoise opens her own mouth to demonstrate ‘ouvrir’.
Lindsay opens his mouth. Francoice pops the pill into his mouth, picks up his glass of beer; hands it to him; indicates for him to drink. Lindsay does so; swallows the pill.
Francoise places her index finger on Lindsay’s mouth; smiles and nods: “Thank you.”
60 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Francoise ladles food from the wok onto three plates.
Le pauvre homme! ‘E don’t know what to do. ‘E eez my poodle, but I ‘ave to voyage rapide before ‘is brain sinks, “Qu'est-ce que c'est!?”
61 EXT. ‘PUSSY GALORE’. NIGHT
Francoise takes her finger from Lindsay’s lips:
Se lever. Stand up.
Lindsay, sobering up fast but still with no idea what is going on, stands. Francoise, smiling sweetly, reaches out, unzips his fly; plunges her hand inside his trousers.
What the fuck....!
Lindsay jumps backwards, stumbles. Terry, Nick and the Other Men laugh. Even Brad, a serious young man, manages a smile.
Francoise leaps to her feet.
Ou revoir messieurs...mademoiselles.
And she is gone; striding purposefully down the street.
Nick watches her for a moment, then leaps to his feet and runs after her.
62 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick laughs as he sits at the table; mimics Francoise.
...mademoiselles. The look on Lindsay’s face...!
As she sits at the table:
What a way to meet!
I knew ‘e would follow me.
I can read ‘im like zee book. I know zee way ‘is mind work.
Vous êtes plein de merde
She is full of shit
Now ‘ee thinks, “Je veux faire l'amour avec zis Angel Mais je dois attendre for zis crazy French woman to leave!” No? Traduire. (To Nick). Translate.
“I want to make love with you but I have to wait until this crazy Frenchwoman leaves.”
‘Eet OK, Neekolas because she want make zee love wiz you aussi.
(She looks at Angela)
Angela, lost for words, laughs; looks at Nick.
But for making the love you must not drink zis vin blanc.
She indicates Nick and Angela’s glasses of wine; makes a dismissive gesture with her hand.
Oh! Why is that?
Peut-être un peu de rouge. You must drink zee red.
Because zee red wine eet ‘as zee ‘igh level of polyphenols, which ees antioxidant to make blood vessels expand. Eet increase blood flow so your vagin become more wet, tu comprends?
Vagina. Cunt. Chatte. You drink just one glass, comprenez vous. More and your libido...
She makes a ‘drooping’ gesture with a finger. Angela laughs, glances at Nick.
They have finished eating. Nick refills his and Angela’s glasses with white wine at the table as Francoise, by the Nest of Vipers collage, traces a finger between the photos of Lindsay Henderson and Terry Swinton.
‘Ee kill zis Lindsay, you think?
Maybe. It’s certainly solved one of Terry’s financial problems.
And ‘oo is this?
She is pointing to a photo of Terry and Bopha - sitting at a table outside “Pussy Galore” with several Bargirls.
And why zee link to zis man? Wiz zee kind face?
Francoise is pointing at a photo of a Khmer man.
Munny. A long story. It’s late and...
You want me to leave so you and your angel can make zee love, no?
Nick laughs, leaps to his feet.
Nick, Angela and Francoise sit cross-legged on the floor. Laid out in front of them are maps, photos, typed manuscripts with corrections and Nick’s laptop computer - into which he is inserting a USB device.
He holds up the photo of the Khmer man with the ‘kind face’ seen a little earlier.
Once upon a time, in a province far far away, on a moonlit night...
63 EXT. RICE PADDIES. NIGHT
Nick’s yellow 4WD drives along a pot-holed road.
NICK (voice over)
...our intrepid reporter sets off...
Rice paddies gleam silver in the moonlight.
NICK (voice over)
...on a dangerous rescue mission.
Nick’s voice and Angela’s laughter fade, to be replaced by a chorus of crickets, frogs and other insects.
64 INT. NICK’S 4WD. NIGHT
Dara, a Khmer man in his mid 40s, drives.
My wife’s brother, Phirun, was a slave. He was offered him a job in Thailand…
Nick in the passenger seat looks at photos on his mobile:
Badly framed, grainy photos of Munny on a fishing boat:
- removing fish from a net…
DARA (voice off)
…working on a pineapple plantation but when he arrived he found out that the captain of a fishing boat...
- lies in his cramped bunk, smiling at the photographer.
DARA (voice off)
...had paid the agency $350 for him.
- a 16 year old boy (Vibrol) lies in his cramped bunk; smiling.
- a ‘selfie’ of Munny with a 16 year old boy on the boat.
DARA (voice off)
Phirun would have to pay the money back before the captain would let him go.
We haven’t heard from Phirun for two years, now. I think, maybe, he is dead, but my wife...she keeps hope alive.
Yes, hope must be kept alive. (A BEAT) And your wife? She is well?
Yes. (A BEAT) Sivourn and I have separated.
I am not so sorry.
Munny’s voice is heard off. He speaks in Khmer.
The rain came. Too much rain.
65 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick, Angela and Francoise look at the screen of Nick’s laptop. Munny talks to camera in close up:
The rice died. We had no food.
Munny’s Khmer is blended with Dara’s English translation.
DARA AND MUNNY
A man came to our village. Davuth. With a barang with red hair.
66 EXT. RURAL VILLAGE. DAY
An impoverished rural village. Dara’s translation of Munny continues over, as Munny’s voice trails off:
DARA (voice over)
Davuth and the man with the red hair offered us a job - me and my son Vibrol, working in a factory...
A group of villagers and their children listen to Davuth, mid 20s, who talks fast, with enthusiasm. Standing alongside him is Terry Swinton.
DARA (voice over)
...in Thailand. Two hundred dollars a month. Good money.
MUNNY, mid 30s, stands alongside his 16 year old son, VIBROL.
DARA (voice over)
Vibol was 16, but strong. And healthy. He wanted to work hard, send money back to his mother.
Vibrol hugs his MOTHER. She tries to hide her distress. As Munny says goodbye to his wife, Vibrol instructs them to pose so that he can take a photo with his cheap mobile phone.
Munny says goodbye to his FOUR OTHER CHILDREN, as does Vibrol. A close loving family.
67 EXT. JUNGLE. NIGHT
Vibrol holds firmly onto Munny’s hand as they stumble through the jungle in the darkness with DAVUTH and OTHERS.
DARA (voice over)
They smuggled us across the border into Thailand, through the jungle.
68 EXT. WHARF. FISHING PORT. DAY
Munny, Vibrol and TWO OTHER MEN argue with Davuth and the CAPTAIN of a fishing boat at the berth closely.
DARA (voice over)
When we arrived at the port we found that the captain of the boat had bought us both from Davuth. $200 for me, $100 for Vibrol. I said ‘no’...
Munny takes Vibrol’S arm, walks off. The Captain follows, taking out a pistol and hitting Munny hard on the back of his head. Munny falls to the ground.
Vibrol runs to his aid. Munny’s head bleeds.
69 EXT. FISHING BOAT. DAY
Munny and Vibrol, both glistening with sweat, separate fish for the market from the ‘trash fish’.
DARA (voice over)
We worked for 20 hour each day, separating the good fish - to be sold in the markets - from the ‘trash fish’ that they crush to make food for prawns and pigs and chickens.
Dara’s voice continues over a montage of photos taken aboard the fishing boat with Vibrol’s mobile phone - of Munny and Vibrol at work - some of which we have seen earlier.
DARA (voice over)
The captain beat us if we worked too slow, if we made a mistake...if he had drunk too much the night before and was in a bad mood.
The ‘selfie’ of Munny and Vibrol that Nick saw earlier.
70 EXT. WHARF. DAY
A busy wharf. There are lots of fishing boats. Munny and OTHER FISHERMEN unload fish and make their way to the large fish market closeby. Munny makes eye contact with Gunther, in his saffron robes.
71 EXT. BACK ALLEY. DAY
Munny stands in a back alley, obscured from view of the fish market seen in the background, by bins of rubbish.
Gunther stands guard at the entrance to the alley. Dara stands alongside Munny, translating. Nick stands opposite, filming with his small video camera. Munny speaks in Khmer - part of the interview we have been seeing/listening to.
Vibrol became sick. Too sick to work. The captain beat him with an iron bar. I tried to stop him but he bashed me in the face with a gun.
Munny opens his mouth to reveal his broken teeth. Dara holds up his hand to stop Munny; translates for Nick.
Vibrol became sick...
Gunther rushes up.
The Captain, holding a pistol, and the Large Thai Man (seen in Ep # 1) have spotted them. As they run into the alley Nick tips the garbage bins behind him as he, along with Munny, Dara and Gunther, run in the other direction.
The Captain and the Large Thai Man give chase. As Nick, Dara and Munny turn a corner, Gunther stops, shout to the others.
He turns; waits. The Captain runs around the corner, gun at the ready. Gunther, expert in karate, disarms and disables him quickly. He does the same with the Large Thai Man.
72 EXT. BACK STREET. DAY
Gunther runs up to Nick, Munny and Dara, a smile on his face.
It is resolve...
Nick gestures: ‘what?’
I had some word with them.
73 INT. ROADSIDE CAFE. DAY
Nick, Munny, Dara and Gunther sit at a grimy Formica table in a low-rent roadside cafe. Nick films with his small camera.
I became unconsciousness for a short time and when I came to I saw that Vibrol was bleeding; crying. The captain lifted him from the deck...
Nick looks to Dara, waiting for his translation. Dara holds his hand up: Wait. Munny pauses for a long moment.
...and threw my son into the sea. Vibrol could not swim. He cried out, ‘Papa’. Just ‘Papa’.
Tears well in Dara’s eyes. Munny’s next sentence, in Khmer, is mixed with Angela’s voice.
ANGELA (voice over)
“Then he was gone. Swallowed by the sea.”
74 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela reads a print-out of Nick’s article. Her eyes glisten with moisture. She is in shock.
“I wanted to die.”
Francoise’s eyes are blazing. She looks back towards Nick’s Nest of Vipers collage.
75 INT. CAR. DAWN
Close on two leathery male hands, scarred and calloused through years of hard physical labour. They hold a cheap mobile phone with a cracked screen, on which can be seen:
Munny, 16 year old son, Vibrol and wife in their village.
Vibrol with his mother, bothers and sisters waving goodbye.
Munny on a fishing boat - removing fish from a net.
Vibrol lying in his cramped cramped bunk, smiling.
A ‘selfie’ of Munny and Vibrol on a fishing boat.
Munny sits in the back of Nick’s 4WD, fighting back tears as he looks at the photos on his mobile phone.
Nick, in the front passenger seat, watches Munny for a long moment; turns back and stares out the window at the procession of rice paddies slipping by.
76 EXT. NICK’S 4WD. DAY
Music continues over. Dara drives the yellow 4WD into a village in which can be seen signs of extreme poverty.
77 INT. NICK’S 4WD. DAY
Music continues over. Munny signals to Dara to stop. He does so. Munny and Nick get out of the car.
Munny raises his hands in a prayer gesture of thanks first to Nick and then to Dara.
Munny’s wife and children appear in the background.
Nick takes out his wallet, removes a couple of $50 bills, hands them to Munny. Munny bows and again raises his hands in a prayer gesture of thanks.
Munny’s wife moves towards him. Munny turns.
Nick gets back into the 4WD, looks out the window:
Munny greets his wife in the background. She looks behind him for her son. Munny talks to her. She screams, falls to the ground. Munny kneels to comfort her. VILLAGERS gather around.
ANGELA (voice over)
“Without slaves like Munny and Vibrol...”
Close on Nick, his eyes filled with tears.
78 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Close on the screen of Nick’s laptop a grainy photo of:
Munny and Vibrol standing together; smiling.
ANGELA (voice over)
“...producing low cost fishmeal from the ‘trash fish’ Thailand's...”
Angela reads from a manuscript in her hands:
“...multibillion-dollar farmed prawn industry could not survive.”
Angela looks at the manuscript in her hands for a long moment before looking up at Nick - tears in her eyes.
Francoise, angry, subdued, holds two thumbs up in approval. Nick nods his acknowledgment.
Angela reaches out, touches Nick, as Francoise stands; makes her way over to the Nest of Vipers collage.
Francoise looks closely at the collage - her eyes flicking between photos; following threads. In the background Angela picks up the photo of Munny (’kind face’) and looks at it. Francoise takes out her mobile; holds it up to the collage.
79 EXT. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Francoise sits on her motor bike. Angela stands by her side; Nick a few feet behind her.
‘Ee eez a good man.
Angela nods; turns to Nick in acknowledgement. Francoise kisses her on both cheeks. Angela hugs Francoise.
80 INT/EXT VARIOUS LOCATIONS. PHNOM PENH. DAY/NIGHT
Montage, with music over.
Wobbly, amateurishly filmed home movie footage; shot from a low angle; a child’s point of view. Street life images flow - as might be seen through the eyes of a child who has never been in Phnom Penh or used a camera before: First impressions:
- A BEGGAR WOMAN, sits on a sidewalk, hand outstretched. The shot, seen through the legs of passers by, is wobbly, ‘out of focus’; badly framed. Beside the Beggar Woman, a 10 YEAR OLD GIRL, a BABY asleep in her lap, looks at the camera.
- An ‘almost-in-focus’ wobbly and tilted shot of the magnificent Royal Palace in downtown Phnom Penh.
- A crowded market. Live fish squirm in a large plastic tray.
The images are mostly of poor, beggar and disabled people, but there are some of TOURISTS sitting in swish roadside restaurants drinking coloured cocktails and eating from plates piled high with food.
The ‘child’ filming discovers the zoom function; plays with it - zooming in and out.
- A shot tightens on an EXTREMELY FAT CAUCASIAN MAN, eating alone, trying to wrap his mouth around a huge hamburger. The shot wobbles a little as a child’s giggling is heard.
- A YOUNG GIRL leads a BLIND MUSICIAN by a rope as he plays a one stringed instrument.
ANGELA (voice over)
In spring, ever since I was a child...when I see a tree with red flowers...
81 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick and Angela sits on stools by the laminated bench in the kitchen area of his apartment.
...I get shivvers up my spine. And sometimes in dreams...
I am looking at the tree with my mother. She takes a flower...a red flower...puts it behind my ear...I look up at her and she is crying. And then she is gone...Gone. My last memory of...mummy.
Tears roll down Angela’s cheeks. Nick moves close to her; wipes them away with his hand. She looks at Nick.
Where is she?
Nick takes her hand.
The place with the tree, with the red flowers, was that the orphanage?
I don’t know. Maybe. I try to remember more but I can’t.
A jig-saw puzzle.
She looks at Nick - vulnerable; confused. He wraps his arms around her. She rests her head on his chest.
The missing pieces...
She looks up at him as if hoping he might know where the missing pieces can be found. He kisses her lips lightly.
Her smart phone announces the arrival of a text message.
The elephant in the room!
Angela looks into space thinking, confused; conflicted.
Nick watches her face as she tries to figure something out. She turns her face up to him as if to say something but can’t find the words. Nick kisses her; more passionately this time.
82 EXT. CLUB AND BAR DISTRICT. PHNOM PENH. NIGHT
The point of view of the amateurish hand-held camera:
A hot night. Sweat, sleaze and sex inform the images.
The streets are crowded. Flashing neon signs- “Pussy Plus”, “69” “Dream Girls” etc - adorn most establishments.
Scantily clad young Khmer women in high heels, wearing too much make-up strut their stuff in the street; try to attract the attention of predatory men; most on the wrong side of 50.
A YOUNG WOMAN in a micro-miniskirt and boob tube looks directly into the lens, smiles to the camera-child; flashes a double V sign with her hands. A MIDDLE-AGED MAN turns away from the camera. He does not want to be filmed.
The camera tilts down to two scrawny street dogs scrounging the gutter looking for food.
83 EXT. UNDERNEATH STAIRS. BAR DISTRICT. PHNOM PENH. NIGHT
Monkey, her frilly white dress dirty now, sits close to the dogs; a small video camera in her hands. A neon sign “ROO S 4 RENT” - flickers on and off in the alleyway behind her.
She lowers the camera; picks up a polystyrene container at her side, opens it; places the remnants of a rice dish on the pavement. The dogs slink towards the food; eat.
Monkey looks towards the bustling centre of the bar/club district with a mixture of fear and excitement.
The sound of Nick’s’s mobile phone ringing.
84 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick and Angela kiss. They try to ignore Nick’s ringing mobile. They break their kiss; both smiling.
How many elephants can this room fit?
There’s no elephant in my life.
(Indicates his phone)
Angela smiles. Her phone begins to ring. They both laugh.
How about I answer yours and you answer mine?
Angela laughs, shakes her head.
Boyfriend? Lover? Partner? ‘Significant other’?
Both mobiles stop ringing.
Mmmm...More than a boyfriend...less than a partner...
‘Lover’, I guess.
And are you in love with your lover? Do you...?
She places a finger on his lips.
Too many questions Mr Morecombe.
OK, no more questions.
Just not that question!
The love question?
How about a lust question!?
If I was to drag you to my bedroom, tear all your clothes off...
With or without my consent?
Nick smiles; undoes the top button of her shirt.
You shouldn’t do that.
Do you want me to stop?
If you were a gentleman...
Did I ever say I was a gentleman?
Nick undoes a second button. Angela smiles; does nothing to either encourage or discourage his undressing of her.
Nick undoes a third button; takes off her shirt; her bra.
They kiss passionately.
Nick takes her hand, moves towards his bedroom. Angela is reticent; hesitant.
You don’t trust me?
Its me I don’t trust.
They look into each others eyes for a long moment. The sound of a text message arriving on Angela’s mobile breaks the spell. Angela smiles sheepishly; reaches for her shirt.
A LITTLE LATER
Angela does up the top button of her shirt, tucks it in as she talks on her mobile - tucked into the crook of her neck.
With Francoise. Frannie.(A BEAT) Yes, I know.
(She listens for a moment)
Not sure she’s ‘psycho’! Bonkers maybe.
(She listens a moment)
‘Screw-loose loopy’ works.
Nick watches her face closely as she listens; brow furrowed.
Can we talk about this tomorrow? (A BEAT) I’m tired.
Angela listens; gestures her annoyance to Nick with her hand.
Alone!? No, I’ve got a whole harem of men waiting to service me. (She laughs; listens) Me too. (A BEAT) I love me too. I’m hanging up.
She kisses the phone; hangs up.
Nick laughs; looks at her: “And?”
Nick smiles; holds up his hands: “OK”
85 EXT. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Angela sits on the back of a moto dop. Nick stands beside her; his arms around her waist.
I think, Miss Partridge, that you may well be the most wonderful woman I have ever met.
I am the most wonderful woman you have ever met! (A BEAT) And the most gorgeous?
And the most gorgeous! Now fuck off.
OK. Fucking off.
She indicates to the moto driver to drive; moves off down the street; looks back to Nick with a happy smile.
86 EXT. UNDERNEATH STAIRS. BAR DISTRICT. PHNOM PENH. NIGHT
Monkey, the two dogs curled up close to her - looks up into the heart of the Bar District. In amongst the jostling crowd of cruising predatory men and scantily clad smiling young women Francoise appears at the entrance to the laneway; looks towards the defective “ROO S FOR RENT” neon sign.
87 EXT. HOTEL. CORRIDOR/CONCOURSE. EVENING
Upmarket hotel. Colonial style. Angela walks along a tiled corridor; camera in hand; laminated H A C name tag hanging around her neck. The sound of applause is heard. Several well-dressed men and women walk with her.
WING CHOU (voice off)
We at the International Development Commission of East Asia...
She stops at the top of stairs overlooking the concourse surrounding a swimming pool. A cocktail party is in progress.
WING CHOU (voice off)
...are proud of our achievements...
The Chinese host WING CHOU, mid-60s, impeccably dressed in a white suit - recognizable from the ‘Eco Casino’ clip seen earlier and photos on Nick’s Nest of Vipers collage - stands on a stage, microphone in one hand.
WING CHOU (voice off)
...proud to be given the opportunity to play a significant role in the development of Cambodia...
Alongside Wing Chou on a large table, is a scale architect’s model - covered in a white ‘tent’.
Cambodia’s business elite, Khmer and expatriate, DIPLOMATS, SENIOR POLICE, MILITARY OFFICERS and POLITICIANS, mingling.
WAITERS circulate with silver trays laden with flutes of champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
...from a tragic victim of the savage Khmer Rouge regime...into a vibrant 21st century democracy whose citizens share in the...
Angela begins to walk down the stairs.
...country’s newfound agricultural, mineral and tourism-driven wealth. This is a Kingdom of Wonder indeed.
88 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
As she walks through the crowd gathered on the concourse adjacent to the swimming pool, Angela (and we) recognize a few of the people we have met of glimpsed briefly on the ‘Nest of Vipers’ photo collage - including Terry Swinton: red-faced, red-haired; drunkenly clutching a flute of champagne.
A toast to Cambodia.
Wing Chou raises his glass. The ASSEMBLED GUESTS do likewise.
Angela raises her camera; takes rapid fire photos.
Balin Meas, out of uniform, wearing a suit (and looking quite dashing), nods his ‘hello’ to Angela. She smiles her hello.
And a toast to our partners, many of whom are with us this evening...
Angela moves forward to take photos of Wing Chou.
...for the launch of our latest and our most exciting venture to date.
Wing Chou bows to the white ‘tent’ alongside him.
About which I will have more to say in due course. In the meantime...
Angela stands in front of Wing Chou taking photos of him.
...eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we will all be but dust and memories in the minds of those we love.
Nick appears at Angela’s side; wraps his arm around her waist; kisses her on the cheek. She reacts with shock; looks around to see if anyone has observed; shakes her head: “No”.
Nick laughs, takes her hand; drags her to the side of the concourse, behind a tree. Amidst applause, Wing Chou can be seen in the background walking from the stage; mingling with guests.
You are the most gorgeous...
You can’t do this! Not here!
Why? Is the ‘elephant’ here?
Nick leans forward and kisses her on the lips; runs his hands over her breasts. Angela’s response is playful.
That’s sexual assault you know.
At least I think it is.
(He kisses her. )
Definitely sexual assault. Cretin.
She walks back towards the concourse; turns; smiles at him.
89 INT. STUDIO. NIGHT
The sound of someone breathing. On a computer screen, a photo:
Nick, amongst men, women and children in the dump community, Angela’s camera in hand, looks towards the 13 year old girl. Angela can be seen dancing with two women in the background.
In a wider shot another photo appears:
Nick is closer to the 13 year old girl now. The background remains filled with men, women and children.
We are in a darkened studio. The figure at the computer is not identifiable. Another photo appears onscreen:
Nick handing Angela’s camera to the 13 year old girl. She reaches out excitedly; smiles.
90 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
Angela, in the crowd, sees:
Nick, glass in hand, nodding politely as a WOMAN talks at him. He spots her, raises his glass to her. She smiles, raises an imaginary glass, sips on it; takes a photo as:
CAMPBELL, mid 30’s, short blonde hair, impeccably groomed, walks up to Nick. The Woman bids her farewell; walks off.
Campbell wears a badge: “Campbell Newton United States Embassy. Acting Vice Consul”. Nick looks at Campbell’s badge.
Acting Vice Consul!
What would I know about vice?
CAMPBELL (sotto voce)
Only temporary, unfortunately, darling. The operative word is ‘acting’.
Closeby, Angela scans the crowd.
CAMPBELL (voice off)
When Daniel returns from Geneva...
...I’ll be but a humble Third Secretary again.
Angela sees Gerard, close to the swimming pool, holding court for a group of ADMIRERS - his smile, body language, exuding charm; charisma; his attention focused on a YOUNG WOMAN standing close; clearly very impressed!
The world needs more people like you.
You are very kind, but I think one of me is more than enough.
The Young Woman laughs; touches Gerard’s arm.
Angela has observed this. Gerard notices her; beams a smile.
Angela smiles back at him; turns to see if Nick has noticed. He hasn’t. He is talking animatedly with Campbell - who pulls a paper clipping from his pocket; hand it to Nick.
Nick looks at the press clipping. The headline reads:
It’s the truth!
You’re treading on the wrong toes, Nicky.
Toes that deserve to be trodden on.
Yes, but their patience is wearing thin.
And they’ve asked you to ask me...tell me...to...
No, nothing like that, but we need to keep the government onside.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes that I can’t tell you about.
But which I will find out!
I hope you don’t. For your own sake. The stakes are high and...
I’m treading on the wrong toes?
I would hate to see anything happen to you. You know that, don’t you?
91 INT. STUDIO. NIGHT
Photoshop is used to erase people, including Angela and the women she is dancing with, from a photo. The camera, in Nick’s outstretched hand, is also erased.
92 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
Wing Chou walks up to Angela; a young female assistant CHANTOU (mid 20s) at his side; leather briefcase in hand.
Madame, I don’t believe I have had the pleasure.
I am Wing Chou.
I am Angela Partridge, Mr Wing Chou.
As in ‘A partridge in a pear tree’?
That’s me, a partridge in a pear tree.
You have not been long in Cambodia, I think?
Just a few weeks.
And what brings you to the Kingdom of Wonder? Love? Adventure? Excitement?
All of the above....Something...
We are all looking for ‘something’, Miss Partridge. For that elusive, ineffable something that we think we lack and that will transform... bring magic into our lives.
Yes, magic! (A BEAT) Have you found it, Mr Wing Chou? Your magic?
WING CHOU (laughs)
Ah, the 64 million dollar question!
93 INT. STUDIO. NIGHT
Another photo is being transformed with Photoshop:
Nick leans close to the 13 year old girl in the dump community; camera in hand; showing her how to operate it.
The camera is erased from Nick’s hand.
94 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
Wing Chou looks on as Angela scrolls through photos on her camera until she finds the ones she took of Wing Chou.
I trust you will choose one in which I look most dashingly handsome.
I’m not a journalist!
I am pleased to hear it, my dear. Some gentlemen of the 4th estate who do not like me have a tendency to choose photos that make me look like...a frog.
In that suit, Mr Wing Chou, it would be very difficult to make you look like a frog.
An illusion, my dear. A disguise.
May I ask what kind of disguise
(She touches his white linen jacket)
Are you familiar with the different colours that make up the light spectrum, Miss Partridge?
In the background the Young Woman admires Gerard’s UN Award - seen in a photo in the Nest of Vipers collage.
Not as familiar as I should be.
Wing Chou smiles.
95 INT. STUDIO. NIGHT
A photograph begins to emerge from an inkjet printer:
Nick, amidst a deserted cluster of ramshackle slum dwellings, walks towards a 13 year old girl. He has something in his hand. It is not a camera.
96 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
Wing Chou opens his arms to embrace the assembled crowd.
When you survey this sea of people, what do you see?
Angela focuses her attention on a DIPLOMAT WITH A BEARD talking with a WOMAN wearing a lot of jewelry
A diplomat with a beard smiling too much at a woman who is not his wife, wearing too much make-up ...and bling, and wearing clothes that she has borrowed from her twenty-something daughter.
Wing Chou smiles. Angela focuses on Terry Swinton; nearby.
A red-haired man with the florid face of a heavy drinker...
Terry Swinton. Yes, the veins in his face bear witness to his penchant for alcoholic beverages. But that is not my point. Where you see an assemblage of individuals, with their idiosyncrasies...separate colours, if you will...I see a community of like-minded spirits...my family...my sometimes dysfunctional family... gathered together to celebrate, to share...our very good fortune.
For you Westerners, the individual is everything. For us...we inscrutable Orientals, family is everything.
97 INT. STUDIO. NIGHT
Two slender hands place photos into a white manila envelope. We catch a glimpse only of one of the photoshopped photos:
Nick handing the smiling 13 year old girl three US$20 bills.
98 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
Nick makes his way through the crowd to where Angela and Wing Chou talk. His eyes catch Terry Swinton’s. He gestures a polite ‘hello’. Terry raises an index finger aggressively: “Fuck you.”
Nick walks up; greets Wing Chou respectfully.
Mr Wing Chou.
Wing Chou smiles, bows to Nick, extends his hand.
Nick shakes Wing Chou’s hand; nods to Chantou; acknowledges Angela with a smile.
Miss Angela Partridge, I believe.
She smiles; shakes his hand.
Mr Wing Chou has been explaining to me why he wears a white suit.
All of the colours of the spectrum added together make up the colour white, right, Mr Wing Chou?
WING CHOU (smiles)
You are a competent investigative journalist, Mr Morecombe, or so I am told.
Nick smiles. An awkward silence.
And how ‘inscrutable’ men in the East see the world in a quite a different way from we individualistic Westerners.
Mr Morecombe sees the world as made up of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, don’t you, Nicholas? Like an old-fashioned Hollywood Western. The forces of darkness fighting an eternal battle with the forces of light.
Which side are you on, Mr Wing Chou?
Both! Neither!? Your question, presumes an either/or answer and does not allow for ‘both’. But darkness and light are not polar opposites, Nicholas.
NICK (voice over)
Except, when the law of the land says one is legal and the other illegal.
WING CHOU (voice over)
The law of the land! In Cambodia! As you know, Mr Morecombe, it is the law of the jungle that prevails here.
Because those are the rules you play by. And most of those here.
Nick gestures to the assembled crowd.
If I play by a different set of rules...
The law of the land.
And if my competitors play by the laws of the jungle?
Evil prevails, but your conscience is clear.
WING CHOU (laughs)
I am not troubled by my conscience.
That is obvious, Mr Wing Chou.
Do you believe in the existence of evil, Nicholas?
You don’t think that evil exists in the world?
Is the lion that kills a zebra evil?
If the lion kills one zebra because he is hungry, no. If he kills two zebras because he is greedy, yes.
And if the lion has a family to feed? Is the killing of two zebras still evil?
Now it is you who are making the world seem over simple.
The zebra must remember, always, to watch his back. If he does not want to be eaten.
And the lion must remember, always, that even the king of the jungle is vulnerable to attack.
From a viper, Nicholas?
Nick smiles, raises his glass.
To vipers, Mr Wing Chou.
WING CHOU (smiles)
Nick and Wing Chou drinks a toast; smile at each other.
Wing Chou bows to Angela, turns; walks off with Chantou.
Welcome to Scambodia!
Unseen by Nick and Angela, Wing Chou and Chantou have stopped in the crowd, 20 or so feet away.
99 EXT. HOTEL. NIGHT
A shiny and spotlessly clean white Rolls Royce pulls up outside the hotel. A large ‘welcome’ sign reads:
Wing Chou Industries
Humanitarian Aid Cambodia (H A C)
Eco Village & Casino
“The Future Arrives Tomorrow”
A CHAUFFEUR, in a white suit, gets out of the Rolls and walks into the entrance; the white manila envelope in his hand.
100 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
Nick and Angela watch as:
Chantou, standing beside Wing Chou, opens her briefcase.
Angela takes rapid fire photos.
101 EXT. UNDERNEATH STAIRS. NIGHT
Monkey sits crouched under a stairway in the Bar and Club district; small video camera in hand.
102 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
As the Chauffeur makes his way through the crowd; white manila envelope in hand, Wing Chou and Chantou walk up.
Mr Morecomble, I forgot to mention how concerned I was when I read this in the newspaper.
He hands Nick a newspaper clipping. He looks at the headline:
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST’S SUICIDE:
Police Account Questioned
For a moment I thought it was you who felt you no longer had a reason to live. My heart missed a beat.
Thank you for your concern, Mr Wing Chou.
As Wing Chou smiles, walks off with Chantou, Angela sees Gerard making his way through the crowd towards her; smiling.
103 EXT. UNDERNEATH STAIRS. NIGHT
Monkey presses rewind, stops, presses re-wind again; finds what she is looking for; presses ‘play’.
104 EXT. CONCOURSE. NIGHT
Gerard walks up behind Nick; hugs him tightly.
Good to see you Nicky.
Its not good to see you, Gerry.
Gerard laughs, wraps his arm around Angela’s shoulder.
I see you have met Angela.
He pulls her towards him; kisses her on the cheek.
Isn’t she gorgeous?
105 EXT. UNDERNEATH STAIRS. NIGHT
Close on the screen of the video camera:
Monkey stands in front of the bedroom door as it is pulled closed; very frightened. A man’s hand beckons to Monkey to approach. She walks up - slowly, tentatively. The hand points to the bed, makes a patting gesture. Monkey sits - her eyes wide open with fear.
Close on Monkey as she looks at the video; mesmerized.
End of Episode # 2