Human Trafficking Confronted By The Power Of Images

By Jared Bowen

The Day My God Died will screen at the BITAHR Saturday at 2:30pm, followed by a panel featuring the
Director Andrew Levine, and Brigitte Cazalis-Collins and Joe Collins, Founders of Friends of Maiti Nepal.

Dec 2, 2010

CAMBRIDGE — The Boston Initiative to Advance Human Rights has organized a group of local filmmakers, survivors, activists, and academics to participate in the Human Rights and Sexual Trafficking Film Forum, taking place at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Dec. 2-5. This forum presents 12 documentaries that explore how the power of film can combat commercial sexual exploitation and modern-day slavery.
Suffolk law professor Kate Nace Day organized the film forum with fellow Suffolk law professor Alicia Foley Winn. Day says the event forwards the notion that film can spark change in ways other mediums can’t. “Documentaries have the power to make the experiences of the victims and the survivors very real… and very human,” Foley Winn said.

Day said she was struck by the effect documentary film had on her students when a film on sex trafficking was shown at Suffolk five years ago. "We decided that film was a powerful way to teach and move forward this growing social movement… to give it a political voice… and to lead to local, national, and international law reform,” Day said.
The forum aims to make a singular impact by presenting in stark terms the most powerful visual images that stem from this issue. “One of the advantages film has as a medium is that it pierces illiteracy," Day said.
“Film also has the power to create concrete change,” Day said. “For example, one of the films, Playground (playing at BITAHR Sunday at 2pm and 3:15pm), about domestic minor sex trafficking, is a film we asked Congressmen Jim McGovern to watch. That lead to opening hearings in congress on the problem of sex trafficking in the United States.”

How do Kate and Alicia advise audiences brace themselves for the often shocking imagery they will face throughout the course of the forum? “I think if you want to understand what’s involved in violent sexual inequalities,” Day said, “Then you have to be prepared to see some part of it.  None of it is exposed in its entirety in any one of these films.”
“But if you have a young person, there are a number of films in the forum on Sunday that are designed to stress preventive measures that work in combating sex trafficking," Day continued.

She admits it's difficult. "You want to make young people aware of the vulnerability, but without violating important social norms about what young people should be seeing or being exposed to,” Day said.
The Human Rights and Sex Trafficking Film Forum opens on Dec. 2 and runs through Dec. 5 at the Brattle Theatre.


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