Inspired by activists in India, dancers in Portland, Oregon capture their art on camera to move against human trafficking.
The Free Body Film
Through video and the physicality of dance, the Free Body Film explores how we are altered when faced with the daunting truth of human trafficking. How do we reckon with the understanding that this human rights abuse is happening to women around us? How do we make a difference?
To be filmed on the vibrant streets of Portland, Oregon in June, the Free Body Film unites dancers in Portland with dancers and anti-trafficking advocates in Kolkata, India. Although we are continents apart, we are connected through the universal language of dance and the desire to live in a world free of human trafficking. The film will be set to stirring original music composed by filmmaker, Elspeth Duncan which blends Kolkata street sounds with the voices of survivors.
Why We are Making This Film
Last year I flew to India to work with Kolkata Sanved, an organization utilizing dance/movement therapy as rehabilitation for survivors of trafficking and violence. The women I met, all survivors, are professional dancers with bright futures as leaders and human rights advocates. I witnessed how dance allows individuals to release trauma and heal. I began to see dance as a visceral form of activism that is joyous, engaging, and relatable. We are all dancers in our own ways, using our bodies to move and express.
Human trafficking is a pervasive problem that touches every country. In my home state of Oregon, hundreds of underage girls are sold for sex. When I learned this I was shocked, appalled, and confused, unaware that my home in the Pacific Northwest is a haven for such exploitation. I came to realize that awareness of the fact that trafficking occurs within the United States is quite low.
The Free Body Film unites dancers and activists to help raise awareness of human trafficking while addressing the urgent need of freedom, healing, and dignity for all. Through the Free Body Film, we recognize the universality of movement to raise awareness about this important issue, reaching audiences both near and far.
We are currently rehearsing in studios across Portland as we prepare to shoot our film in June. We are posting videos of our rehearsals so you can see what we’re creating before we take it to the streets to film.
Learn the Facts
Here are some facts about human trafficking in the United States that we aim to call attention to in the Free Body Film:
The average age of a girl to be trafficked is 13 years old.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimates that 100,000 to 300,000 American children are prostituted or at risk of commercial sexual exploitation within the U.S. each year.
A victim could be anyone. Pimps recruit girls at malls and bus stops. Pimps may pose as loving boyfriends before selling the girls in clubs or on the internet, forcing youth into compliance through promises of love, violence, terror, and economic dependency.
Despite these facts, there is hope for change. National and international laws are bringing trafficking into the spotlight, raising penalties for traffickers, and providing more protection to survivors. In Portland and across the globe, survivors are speaking out as advocates against trafficking and gender-based violence. Through our film, we support these voices and the unique voices of artists and activists effecting positive change.
Our Amazing Team
Sydney Skov, Free Body Film Choreographer and Co-Director, has been inspired by dancers and people working for positive change in their communities in the United States, Senegal, India, and around the world. After graduating from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Sydney has pursued a career in the field of international development. Sydney is also a professional contemporary dancer living in Portland.
Janique L. Robillard, Producer and Co-Director is a freelance video producer and graduate of the Syracuse University Newhouse School of Communications. Hailing from Vermont and Wyoming, she moved to Portland in 2010. In Portland, Janique began producing for Actual Industries, Alicia J. Rose Photography, Downhill Productions, and other independent projects. Her experience includes multiple broadcast commercials, short-form documentary work, industrial videos, a feature film, and narrative shorts.
Paulius Kontijevas, Director of Photography, is a full-time freelance cinematographer. Immigrating from Lithuania to the United States in 2002, most of his influences come from architecture, culture and people. He has worked on a wide variety of digital video production: from music videos to feature films, from web videos to broadcast commercials.
Harrisen Howes, Camera/Steadicam Operator, is a full-time camera/steadicam operator. Originally from London, England, he moved to Portland at the age of 11 with the desire to one day work in the world of film. Harrisen has worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from music videos to feature films.
Our film crew is unified by their drive to create socially conscious art. These artists have been working together since they first collaborated on “What’s Going On”, a Downhill Productions music video shoot in 2010. They are thrilled by the opportunity to bring the Free Body Film to life in a way that can be shared with people around the world.
How You Can Help
Your funding will support equipment costs, permits, editing, post-production, awareness-raising and promotional materials, as well as equipment rentals. We have big dreams for the Free Body Film; your support will allow us to bring the film to life as well as hold screenings across Portland and throughout the West Coast. Portland is known as a hub for human trafficking activity in the United States but the crime has flourished up and down the West Coast due to long stretches of highway traversing Washington, Oregon, and California. Thanks to you, we will be able to bring the discussion of human trafficking to wider audiences in a profound new way.
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Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Creating a short film of such high quality on a small budget will require a significant amount of labor along with amazing amounts of generosity, passion, and patience on the part of every artist involved. Raising awareness of human trafficking, while it does not seem like much, is an incredibly important step in moving toward a world free of trafficking. Through awareness raising we may change negative stigmas, allow community members to identify signs of human trafficking and report them, and encourage law makers to support victim-centered policies.
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