Sold in America
Today I’m reviewing a new documentary short: Sold in America.
Directed by Chelo Alvarez-Stehle, Sold in America tells the stories of three women sold into slavery in the United States.
The film does an excellent job in depicting how varied the means are for sex trafficking in America. The three women interviewed come from different walks of life and were forced into slavery in very different ways.
“Sold in America,” Alvarez-Stehle says, “seeks to alert and educate audiences on how to recognize victims of sex trafficking, and to open the eyes of those who are captive by letting them know there is a way out. The film shows that sex trafficking has become commonplace in the US, and we can only stop it by creating awareness.”
Many if not most people are confused about the definition of sex trafficking as opposed to prostitution, which is not surprising: until 1998, US law did not even recognize the difference. But sex trafficking is not consensual – it is a form of slavery that targets women and children (in most cases) and that occurs without prosecution every day in the United States and around the world.
The film is a good introduction to the struggles of women who have survived trafficking. It raises some important questions, including:
- “Why do these women often end up in prison instead of their tormentors?”
- “How are immigrant women at risk?”
- “Doesn’t this only happen in poor neighborhoods?”
- “How can we protect children from human trafficking?”
- “Is there even such a thing as child prostitution?”
The film is only ten minutes long, so while it does raise these questions, it does not fully answer all of them. Hopefully in the future Alvarez-Stehle can make a feature film that delves even deeper.
Instead, Sold in America makes a fantastic opening to a discussion about sex trafficking of girls and women in the United States, and would be perfect for small groups interested in exploring this issue and the many myths surrounding it.
The film premiered at the Montreal Human Rights Film Festival, and has subsequently been solicited by various film festivals and events, including France’s Alliance International Human Rights Film Festival of Paris and the Amnesty International Cinéma et Droits Humains Festival and WatchDocs (Helsinki Human Rights Foundation) in Poland.
In the United States, it has also been screened at the Women in the World Summit: Stories and Solutions, organized by The Daily Beast and opened by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at campus events around the country, and as an educational tool at Brown University.
Alvarez-Stehle says, “I am thrilled to see that this film is taking a life of its own and is being used as an outreach and educational tool to create awareness on human trafficking and help demolish this horrifying crime against humanity. Though it is a small short, the amount of passion, energy and work we put on it was immense and it is encouraging and gratifying to see it is serving a great cause.”
Because the film is still in the festival circuit, the film is not yet for sale. To request a copy for screening, contact the director.