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Solomon Islanders’ ordeal in the US turned into a film now qualifies for Oscar nomination

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Solomon Islanders who were promised scholarships but ended up on the streets begging for food, money and lived in inhumane conditions in the United States of America now have their story turned into a film which now qualifies for an Oscar Award. The film will be shown in Honiara tomorrow at the Native Lens Film Festival.

In 2020, 12 Solomon Islanders were refused to be flown home by Air New Zealand and were left stranded in Los Angele following the declaration of an international travel ban due to COVID-19.

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The youths flew back to Georgia in the US and were looked after by a faith-based institution which also has an office in Honiara.

The youths were in the States on a program with International Leadership Training Program (ILTP).

It was revealed then that their mission was to raise young conscientious leaders who can contribute to peace-building efforts around the world.

However, the youths were unable to return home and it was some their activities in Georgia that didn’t go well as they were forced on the streets to solicit money now resulting in the film TRENTO to the moon and back.

Organisers say the film highlights a form of trafficking that many in Solomon Islands are not aware of.

“We will be inviting Organizations who are working to address human traffic issues in Solomon Islands to share a bit after the film also (10 mins discussion). This brief discussion will be led by Stages of Change Theatre Group who have done work in rural areas,” said one of the organisers.

Here is the synopsis (Brief of the Film) TRENTO to the moon and back

In 2017, Brian Auga (20) was recruited in the Solomon Islands for the International Leadership Training Program. Both he and his brother, Moses, were promised college scholarships and flown to the US. Over the next two years, the brothers and at least 25 indigenous teens/YA’s were trafficked in vans across state lines, soliciting money. Enduring inhumane living conditions, the boys were indoctrinated into the Unification Church – colloquially known as the “Moonies”. Only through COVID-19 did the boys dramatically escape the trafficking group. Finding refuge in a rural town in Trenton, Georgia, the pair remained in hiding until 2022, impacting the deeply conservative community there, forever.

The film is written by Josh Leong. The producers are: Sam Gollob, Will Nelson, Sofia Bara, Josh Leong, the executive producers: Sundeep Sanghavi, Will Nelson, director of Photography: Stan Pe, Editor: Josh Leong and Sound Designer: Vinny Alfano

Trenton to the moon and back has been screened all over USA and has been in several Oscar Qualifying film festivals. Which means it is qualified to be nominated for an Oscar Award.

Also, showing tomorrow are short films produced by In Native Lens. The film challenge awards and the best of the fest (international film awards) 


If you want to watch the films they will be shown at the Art Gallery Tomorrow Saturday 4th at 12pm, adults $5, kids $2

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