On Tuesday, October 4, Suffolk University Law School and Film and Law Productions will present Sands of Silence, an award-winning documentary film on sexual abuse and trafficking by Chelo Alvarez-Stehle. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Alvarez-Stehle; Siddharth Kara, author of Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery; and Lisa Goldblatt-Grace, the co-founder and director of My Life My Choice.
The screening begins at 6.30 p.m. in Suffolk Law's Function Room, 120 Tremont Street. At the closing reception, the audience will have an opportunity to meet the filmmaker and the panelists. The event is free and open to the public.
Stehle, a former Los Angeles and Tokyo correspondent for Spain’s El Mundo has worked for almost two decades documenting the life stories of women forced into the sex trade. She produced Through the Wall, a documentary short that received a 2016 Imagen Award (Best Web Series). The Imagen Awards is often described as the Latino Golden Globes.
Siddharth Kara is the Director of the Carr Center Program on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery and Adjunct Lecturer of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the screenwriter and producer of Trafficked, a feature-length film based on his award-winning book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery.
Lisa Goldblatt-Grace is the co-founder and director of My Life My Choice (MLMC). Since 2002, MLMC has offered a continuum of survivor-led services including prevention groups, training, survivor mentoring, and program consultation.
Sands of Silence looks at the life of Virginia Isaias, a Mexican woman who escaped from a sex trafficking ring in Mexico, later becoming an advocate for sexual violence survivors in Southern California. As shown in the film, Alvarez-Stehle is inspired by Isaias’s courage and decides to break the silence about sexual abuse in her own life.
Suffolk Law Professors Kate Nace Day and Russell G. Murphy co-founded Film and Law Productions to develop and present visual stories as a form of legal advocacy. Their first film, A Civil Remedy, was an official selection of major film festivals and the winner of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys’ Media Award and the National Women’s Political Caucus Exceptional Merit in Media Award (EMMA).
Day and Murphy first met Alvarez-Stehle through their work on the 2010 Boston Initiative to Advance Human Rights Film Forum. Working with former Suffolk Law student and human rights activist Alicia Foley, they developed a four-day event dedicated to documentary films combatting sex trafficking. The forum drew more than 1,200 attendees and was the first film event of its kind. At the Forum, Chelo presented Tin Girls, a documentary film about Nepalese girls, ages 13 to 18, who were sold as sex slaves and trafficked to brothels in India.
“Sands of Silence creates a link between the horrors of commercial sexual exploitation, which affect many of those who live marginal lives, and the diffused but pervasive sexual abuse that our society tacitly condones,” said Alvarez-Stehle. “One important common theme is that silence must be broken first within families. The film is helping victims break the silence on sexual abuse and exploitation and inspiring them to social activism,” she added.
Goldblatt Grace has been working with vulnerable young people in a variety of capacities for over twenty years. Her professional experience includes running a long term shelter for homeless teen parents, developing a diversion program for violent youth offenders, and working in outpatient mental health, health promotion, and residential treatment settings.
Professor Murphy calls the screening of Sands of Silence “another important step in Suffolk’s commitment to using film and video to promote human rights, combat all forms of political and social oppression and engage the community in hands-on legal reform.”