Who: Christina Zorich
City: In Fort Lauderdale for the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
Quote: “If we give up on this, they win”
HOW DID THE FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL GET TO INCLUDE YOU IN THEIR LINEUP THIS YEAR? “I am grateful to be part of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. We have submitted the film to film festivals all over the world. This is my first time in Fort Lauderdale and one of the first times in a couple of years I am participating in a film festival that is not on Zoom. I am also excited about coming to warm weather and getting a chance to go to the beach!”
YOUR FILM, THE NEW ABOLITIONISTS IS YOUR DIRECTORIAL DEBUT. WHY DID YOU DO A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING? “I met someone in Los Angeles who was rescuing women and children. I was shocked to learn that a lot of human trafficking was going on right around me. There are underground brothels full of women and children from ages 8 months to 80 years old set up all over the world. Trafficking is the second biggest underground business next to drugs. Some children are even trafficked by their parents. Cartels and gangs have sophisticated networks that can morph into whatever the location requires, be it parties, sporting competitions, tourism, special events, anything. Even police officers don't know how to deal with it.
The film has been a five year labor of love. It takes audiences on a journey into Southeast Asia, an area widely considered to be the “most trafficked" region of the globe, and searches for answers to why and how human sex trafficking flourishes in these areas. I follow four Christian Ministries, which are also non-government organizations (NGOs), so that the audience can learn the complexities of all the issues surrounding and generating human sex trafficking. We have interviewed many survivors in our film.
From Cambodia to Thailand, the story becomes increasingly complex. I had some obstacles, including the need for the initial NGO to demand anonymity. Subsequent to the conclusion of filming, threats became public from Cambodian government officials to revoke the visas of NGOs for revealing the intricacies and dark truths of this criminal industry.”
HOW CAN YOUR FILM HELP THIS PROBLEM? We are partnering with KidSafe, a Boca Raton Foundation that teaches kids from K to 5th grade how to recognize danger and access help. This film is a humanitarian effort for the public to know how to protect kids. Abusers are usually someone they know and often they are even the breadwinner. Kids become confused, shamed, threatened and often manipulated into silence. We help the average citizen understand human trafficking because once they hear what goes on, they won’t be able to un-see or un-hear it.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP WITH YOUR MOTHER, OSCAR WINNING ACTRESS OLYMPIA DUKAKIS? “When I was a kid, my mother ran a theatre company.
We were always around actors, writers , producers and directors. Mom grew up in a time where women with families didn’t have careers but she was a very driven renegade. Mom was passionate, gifted and had a strong sense of identity and I have been influenced by that.”
ARE YOU ALSO AN ACTOR? “I acted as a kid, then started doing regional theatre in New Jersey. That led to my working in independent films and like my mother, I started teaching which has led to directing and producing. I have been working on the New Abolitionists since 2012.
WHEN CAN WE SEE YOUR FILM, MEET YOU AND PARTICIPATE IN A QUESTION-ANSWER SESSION?
The film is screening in the Documentary Competition is:
Monday, November 15 at 2:45 PM | Cinema Paradiso Hollywood
Monday, November 15 at 5:30 PM | Savor Cinema
Tuesday, November 16 at 12:00 PM | Gateway Cinema
Q&A with director Christina Zorich and Editor Landon Satterfield
immediately following screenings. Special guest Cherie Benjoseph (KidSafe) will be at the 5:30pm and 12pm Q&A’s
“I am Anita Mitchell and I collect people stories, much the same way people collect shoes or baseball cards or Lladro porcelain figurines. During my 26 years at WSVN7, I had the front-row seat to people stories and it was there I learned about the extraordinariness of the ordinary.
Since retiring from television news, I serve on the Board of Directors of Different Brains, a charitable foundation that supports neurodiverse adults. I also serve on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame. We honor local residents who have set unique standards of excellence through sports.
Since 2004, I have swum competitively with our local Swim Fort Lauderdale Masters Swim Team (SFTL).
I don’t really know how the writing and the swimming and the neurodiverse and honoring local sports figures are connected but I know in my heart that they are.