“‘Trafficked’ follows three young women from the United States, Nigeria and, India who are exploited as sex slaves yet ultimately reclaim their dignity and freedom.”
On Thursday, October 5th, The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, hosted the premiere and gala reception for the very important and urgent film, “Trafficked”.
The United Nations Economic and Social Council Chamber is where the red carpet took place, right after the film’s screening.
The reality and severity of the stories shocked even the leaders and change-makers in attendance. There was a sense of urgency and unity in the room post-watching the film.
Last year slave traders made $100 billion. That’s more than Intel, Microsoft, Nike, Google, and Starbucks… combined. This is the disturbing reality of human trafficking.
Many were talking about how critical of an issue human trafficking is, and voicing their disappointment about the lack of action taken towards combatting it.
We caught up with the film’s star Elisabeth Röhm and screenwriter and producer Siddharth Kara, who is also a Harvard professor and one of the word’s most renowned experts on human trafficking and modern slavery.
Q: How was the process when compiling research for this film? There’s so much out there about human trafficking, so much to talk about.
A: “The film was really something I had in mind when I was doing the research for my first book “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery”. So even when I was writing that book and doing the research all around the world, I realized only a handful of people will ever read my book, but millions of people might see a film. I tried to take all that same research and all that same knowledge from around the world and put it into the script, in a story that is also hopefully a little interesting to watch and a little engaging for the audience.”
Q: How was that balance of having the storyline be engaging but also informative? What was it like writing the script, to make sure that balance was there?
A: “There were two very challenging balances to be drawn. The first was giving information about human trafficking without it being didactic and like a documentary film. The second balance was being true to the horrific realities of the issue but not so true, that it’s too difficult to watch. And also, not too sanitized that it betrays the truth. So those were two very fine and challenging balances that I had to walk.”
Q: Were you part of the casting process?
A: “I was a part of everything from casting to location scouting to pre-production. I was on set every single day. And then in post-production, sound editing, the color correction, all the way through. I’m very bad at delegating (laughs) I wanted my fingers involved in everything.”
Q: Then how did you end up choosing the cast?
A: “There were a handful of actors who came in for auditions and I could tell, and the rest of the producers, director, could tell, that they really felt in their hearts what the story was about, and it came too authentically. That authenticity is what’s crucial. You can see this film, you can make a film like this and if it’s not authentic then it’s actually a great tragedy, because it has done a disservice to all of the victims and survivors of human trafficking around the world. So when we saw someone who came in and did their audition with authenticity, they were definitely on the short-list and probably cast.”
Q: What made you want to be a part of this story?
A: “It wasn’t an issue that I was very aware of. I think that was what was a shocking effect on me; was that I don’t know if I understood the depth of this issue until really recently in the last 10 /12 years. So I think of the rest of the world that doesn’t think about this, with this country that’s not aware. I lived in New York and moved to California and there I became a little bit more aware of it, because it’s a big issue in California. So that was for me, just very shocking, very disturbing. So to have an opportunity to work with friends because I knew the director and Siddharth before. I think when more than one person unites, change happens. I flew in from LA just to be here, just to help support the knowledge that Siddhartha has shared with people. For them to pay attention and for them to know that it’s happening right in their backyard and it’s going to be a huge battle; because as he pointed out, it’s such an economically profitable business, but it’s slavery, today, currently.”
The movie opened in theaters on October 6th in New York City and will be opening October 13th in Los Angeles. Make sure to catch it and support the film and its important message.