A small slum in Channai, India is known as “kidney village” because of its thriving human organ trade. Rama Rau’s doc The Market takes us there, where we see a woman named Prabha brokering the sale of her sister Hema’s kidney.
“She’s just 27. Look at the quality of the product, don’t look at the money,” Prabha tells the buyer, pushing for the equivalent of $5,000 for her sister’s organ—enough to cover Hema’s debts.
Prabha is also one kidney fewer than she used to be, along with three other members of her family. By the end of the film, she’s brokering for 10 clients, coaching them through the corrupt tribunal process and hooking them up to the right surgeons.
Meanwhile, Sandra waits for a new kidney in Nanaimo. Her mother and daughter both urge her to purchase an organ on the market, but she’s uncertain—even after five years of dialysis and with time running out.
Filmmaker Rau gets remarkably intimate with her subjects, including the Indian doctor who rationalizes and encourages the trade in organs, and Prabha, who bickers with her unemployed husband over the ethics of her work. In the final scenes, Sandra and her family travel to India to get an up-close look at the deal they might be entering into.
The Market, which took the 2011 Hot Docs Don Haig award, is the latest entry in the Knowledge Network’s outrageously good Storyville series, screening Tuesday and Wednesday night.
The Market screens tonight (Dec 13) at 9:00 pm, and Wednesday (December 14) at 12:00 am