What inspired you to support the movement against human trafficking and make films about human trafficking and sexual exploitation?
Towards the end of 2010, I started reading a lot about human and sex trafficking. I also watched a movie called The Whistleblower, based on a true story of how UN soldiers were trafficking girls from former Soviet Union to former Yugoslavia.
However, the most influential person who inspired me was a lady I met on Twitter, Lynn Robertson. Lynn’s work and dedication made me inspired to write a script and then to turn it into a movie. I wanted to be involved in the fight against sex and human trafficking in any possible way. At that time, I thought the best way for me to make society more aware of the huge problem we are facing was to make a ‘fictional’ movie.
Can you describe the films you’ve made in the area of human trafficking?
So far, I’ve made Anna and Modern Day Slavery, which is the first movie in a series of four. Anna is a strong, independent woman who leaves her partner and her high paid government job behind to set up an underground organisation that exposes corruption and injustice which is spreading like a virus around the world. Her IT/hacking skills come in handy when she discovers international sex slavery networks that run deep into the government and corporate structures. Her investigation leads her to Eastern Europe where one vital contact sets her on track to discover horrific truths behind human trafficking. To keep up on top of things, Anna recruits Pawel, a talented researcher who unwittingly gets entangled into the unstoppable current of events. They both risk everything to unravel the secrets behind a major trafficking ring and shed public light onto the horrors of sex slavery.
What research, if any, did you have to undertake before making the film and how did you go about that?
I found most of the information either by watching documentaries and short movies or reading articles online. The media have been covering trafficking quite a bit in recent years. Once I started running a crowd funding campaign to get the money for the movie, a lot of people began sending me various links to articles, charities and movies. My education and research is never ending. I still receive a lot of articles and movies to watch from friends on different social platforms.
What legal improvements or changes would help to abolish human trafficking and sexual exploitation?
That is an extremely difficult question and I don’t think there is just one right answer. Besides, human trafficking exists in every single country, so every country must apply laws that can help the victims of human trafficking in that particular country and that particular and unique situation.
First of all, the society needs to be aware that the problem exists. Secondly, the citizens need to feel safe enough to report strange activities in their neighbourhoods to the authorities.
The support system for the victims needs to be much better and they can’t be punished for a crime they have not committed, but was committed against them. Some countries treat the victims of human trafficking as illegal immigrants and punish them – even with prison sentences.
In my opinion, the Swedish system, where not only the oppressor but also people using trafficked victims in any way are punished, could be the right way forward.
What other projects/charities are you involved in for anti-human trafficking and what else does your work in this area entail?
Fifty percent of the money Anna and Modern Day Slavery is going to make will go to charities. At the moment, we are co-operating with the French charity C.R.E.E.R.
I support other artistic projects – films and theatre – that depict the subject of human trafficking.
I also wrote a book for children called Mikolay and Julia in the Attic that talks about trafficking in a non-direct way. The story is trying to make children aware of not talking to strangers or taking sweets or toys from them. Sadly, a lot of victims of human trafficking are children.
For anyone else who wants to be involved, what can other people do to help?
You can also help your local charity that helps the victims of human trafficking.
Learn how to recognise the signs of trafficked people. This could save someone’s life.
What are your plans for the future?
Make more Anna… movies and hopefully make loads of money for charities.
Recommended websites/books/films/further reading:
Anna and Modern Day Slavery official website
Mikolay and Julia In the Attic link to my book
C.R.E.E.R. – the charity I’m working with
Human Trafficking Awareness USA website
Lynn Robertson – a real life role model & inspiration
- Magda Olchawska’s filmmaker interview can be read here.