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The Market


Regia: Rama Rau

Canada, 2010

Durata: 90 min.





A slum in Chennai, India. Home of the discarded, the starving – and now, also the home of a desperate tsunami refugee camp, on the outskirts of an indifferent city. Out here, survival means selling a kidney.


Most of the fishermen are in post-trauma conditions, having witnessed or been in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. They simply refuse to go back to the sea for their livelihood, their wives have taken to selling their kidneys to feed the children. The tsunami has accelerated what is becoming an accepted form of collateral – the kidney.


Hema, a young mother of two, wants to sell her kidney so she can pay off the crippling debts of her family.  A broker tells Hema she’ll get $2500 for her kidney. If she sells she will be the fifth member of her family to sell a kidney for an amount that represents several years’ wages.  But there’s no certainty that she will actually receive the money and the loss of her kidney will seriously undermine her ability to continue working.


Across the world in Nanaimo, Canada. Forty year old single mom Sandra’s kidneys are failing and she has been on a waiting list for 5 years now, for a new kidney.  Her condition has left her chained to a dialysis machine, four times a day, every day, if she is to live. Meanwhile, she is also struggling financially and her condition has turned her into a social outcast. Her mother is a match but has health issues herself that prevent her from donating her kidney.  Every 3 days a Canadian dies waiting for a new kidney; in the US it’s one every day. Where do patients go to fill the gap?


Two different people. Two journeys. With one end. To find a kidney, someone has to lose one….


The global trade in human organs is one of the most profitable and dangerous enterprises; a black market that equals the drug and human trafficking trade. It’s simple economics; demand exceeds supply. While an international bioethics debate rages for legal organ transplant mandates and North America is considering legalizing organ sales, there’s a more insidious evil at hand. In some parts of the world, it’s rapidly becoming an accepted form of trade, to offer money for a human organ.


The Market follows individual stories that explore the larger issues surrounding the organ trade - and looks at these issues from both a Western point of view as well as from the point of view of people selling their organs.
Even the broker, it seems, has a story to tell. They are mostly past donors themselves, and now ‘help’ others sell their kidneys. Prabha says she became a broker to keep people from getting cheated. “We give the gift of life… and I only help them get the right price,” she says. But there’s more, as we realize Prabha and Hema, who wants to sell her kidney, are sisters…
As Hema in India and Sandra in Canada continue on their convergent journeys, the film unravels as we go deeper into their lives, their hopes and dreams and we are pulled in different directions, never sure what the solution may be.
The Market is a documentary that delves into many worlds – but primarily looks at the chilling reality of the trade we’ve created of human flesh. It’s not just about the horrific organ bazaar that some parts of the world have become. It’s about a world that’s slipping into a bizarre cannibalisation, where rich people live on others’ organs, where children are fed with the money their mothers get for selling their body parts. It’s about man exploiting man, where we’ve reduced ourselves to walking cadavers, potential organ carriers, the dignity of life all but snatched away in the name of economics.
A chorus of ‘donors’ show their scars….all tell stories about kidneys sold for money. If there is a hell on earth, you’ll probably find it here ….an open market for human organs. And dignity.
What are the ethics of organ buying and selling? Will slums turn into reservoirs of body parts for the rich? Is it right to legislate and commodify the human body? Will Sandra travel to India for a new kidney? Is selling a kidney Hema’s ticket to a better life? And, what would we ourselves do if we were forced into a similar dilemma?


Buy. Or sell?



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