'Not My Life' filmmaker says modern slavery is a children's issue
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 19 January 2011 – A feature-length documentary that exposes the brutal reality of human trafficking, and its disproportionate impact on children, has its world premiere in New York tonight.
The documentary – ‘Not My Life,’ directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert Bilheimer and narrated by actress Ashley Judd – was made with support from UNICEF and international non-governmental organizations. It takes an unflinching look at the multi-billion dollar industry that is the modern-day slave trade.
Human trafficking is a global problem affecting large numbers of children. Some estimates say as many as 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, but experts generally acknowledge that the full extent of trafficking is not known.
“We have no idea what we’re dealing with, except that it’s in every country in the world in some form or another,” said Mr. Bilheimer. “And that, to me, is the most frightening part of all.”
Abuse of children
‘Not My Life,’ which took four years to make, examines slavery in five continents – from forced labour in Africa to sexual trafficking in the United States and Southeast Asia. The abuse of children is the common theme.
“Over time, what became clear to me is that the issue of global human trafficking and modern-day slavery is primarily a children’s issue. Once you make that realization, you have to ask yourself what on earth this means for us as a human family,” noted Mr. Bilheimer.
“We’re cannibalizing our own children,” he added.
Awareness and action
The filmmaker, who also made ‘A Closer Walk,’ a documentary about the worldwide AIDS epidemic, hopes that greater awareness of trafficking and slavery will prompt more action to combat these practices.
“That’s what gives us hope,” he said. “The people on the front lines of this issue – UNICEF, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the US Government, the NGOs – these are very passionate, dedicated people."