close icon

Production   /  James Lingwood

A Light in the Slaughterhouse

Caught between God and the Devil, Father Joe fights to save his slum people from the bulldozers of mass destruction.


Impact areas


Film Updates:

    • Heart of Gold Film Festival Nominated Most Inspirational Film, Australia, 2018
    • Kolkata Film Festival, Certificate of Excellence, India, 2019
    • Bangalore Film Festival, Certificate of Excellence, India, 2019
    • Finalist, My Hero International Film Festival, 2019



  • DIRECTOR James Lingwood

  • PRODUCER James Lingwood



Father Joe, a Redemptorist Irish / American Catholic priest arrived in Bangkok in
1972 where he established the Human Development Foundation in Bangkok’s
notorious Klong Toey slum. Over the past 45 years, Father Joe and the Mercy Centre
which he also set up, have put 70,000 kids from the slums through school, have built
or re-built 10,000 slum houses and have provided a refuge and a home to thousands
of abused, prostituted and HIV/AIDS afflicted children.
We will trace Father’s early days where he was shown little or no love at home and
given a wretched time by an alcoholic father, to his first days in Bangkok
in the 70’s where he was advised by Mother Teresa to dedicate his life to the
suffering children of the Bangkok slums. We will walk with him first-hand through the slums of Klong Toey where he will show us his secret world. Now 79 years old, Father Joe knows that the ticking clock of his life is finite as he tries to save his slum people from being displaced by mass development.

Support this project

0% funded
  • $180,000.00

  • $0.00

  • 31st December 2021

  • 0

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $




Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

This is not just a story about Americans, Asians or Australians. This is a story about all children wherever they are and wherever they live. It’s about the basic human right of having a childhood and of being a young and innocent spirit. This film has to be made to create a global awareness about these humanitarian crimes so that individuals, families, men, women, and governments can reach out and help to stamp out the degradation and destruction of our young children whether they are black, white, yellow or brown. The film will help to generate much needed funding to fight these abominations which have fast become a worldwide epidemic. During the past two decades it is estimated that one third of the worlds human trafficking takes place in Asia. 30% of the victims are children. One of the largest forms of trafficking is sex trafficking where the majority of victims are young females between the ages of 12 – 18. Between 50 – 90% of the children rescued from brothels have HIV.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

By bringing Father Joe’s story to the world, we hope that the film will generate a greater awareness of other people’s cultures and those who are less fortunate than we are. We hope that the film will inspire and encourage people from all around the world to think about their fellow human beings and the fragile world in which they live. Greater awareness generates active volunteer work and generous donations which means more schools, more medical supplies and better living conditions.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

I think that the measure of the impact and success of the film is dependent upon it being seen by the greatest number of people. Certainly, for the measure of impact, awareness, and attitudinal shift there can be no better device than a website or webcast where Father Joe personally answers questions and discusses various topics raised by interested parties. The Mercy Centre, with centres now in the US, UK, Ireland and Australia, has a website which can measure the amount of traffic as well as the increase in donations which can be transferred online.
Another important aspect of the film is that it is a recording and a legacy of what Father Joe has achieved. He won’t be around forever and this film will serve as a reminder and an inspiration for others to continue the good fight. Hopefully the film will continue to inspire people to continue to donate and volunteer their time to help others less fortunate.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

We believe that education is fundamental to the understanding of global and humanitarian issues such as poverty, famine & disease and as such is a very important aspect for the purpose of our project. A website will provide extra information and insights into the Mercy Centre, its many facets of operation and the many levels of human suffering which it takes care of.

A book about Father Joe, his life and his work was released in March 2008, and this will most certainly promote and support the documentary as well as perhaps providing study guides for schools which could include chapters from the book and clips from the documentary. Father Joe has written two books of short stories which he will narrate and which will be distributed as audiobooks. The website will also enable the selling of paintings and silk printed T-shirts, tea towels and other merchandising and will also encourage interaction between students throughout the world via pen pal and paint pal.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Father Joe, the Mercy Centre and the Human Development Foundation in Bangkok, have been fundamental to the making of this documentary. The HDF-Mercy Centre operates thirty preschools for over 3,000 children in the poorest Bangkok neighbourhoods. The foundation also operates preschools for the children of construction workers at large construction sites as well as the Janusz Korczak School for Street Children on premises at their Mercy Centre.
The HDF-Mercy Centre, founded in 1973 by Father Joe Maier and Sister Maria Chantavarodom, is a non-denominational community based organization, recognized locally and internationally for its development work with the poorest of the poor and its long-standing programs in the areas Child Protection, Education, HIV/AIDS, Anti-trafficking and Community Outreach. Mercy Centre is a shelter for street kids, five orphanages, a hospice, a home for mothers and children with HIV/AIDS, a 400-pupil kindergarten, a community meeting place, and serene haven.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

To engage and support NGO'S and gthose less fortunate
To discuss the issues generated by the film
To donate time and money to those less fortunate
To report and stamp out child abuse and pedophilia
To address and contain domestic violence
To control drug and alcohol addiction
To recognize suicidal tendencies and those with mental depression
To be generous of spirit and compassion

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Success can be very subjective and in the case of a film dependent on being seen by large audiences worldwide. For a 90 mins feature documentary such as A Light in the Slaughterhouse, whilst it is important to reach a large audience it is also critical to engage with that audience and create an awareness about issues that are fundamental to the life and blood of every child living. Success indicators will be:- a cinema theatrical release worldwide, a digital release on Amazon or Netflix, television broadcast sales and the re-release of Father Joe's books. These impact indicators are highly media driven and will lead in turn to outreach programs in schools and colleges and other educational outlets.