A sobering stat: The National Human Trafficking Resource Center receives more calls from Texas than any other state, and 15 percent of those calls come from Dallas-Fort Worth, according to Sara Taylor with DFWTraffick, a local organization dedicated to combating sexual exploitation in the area. I heard from Taylor after my post last summer about a new Dallas Police Department program that will track prostitutes through DNA in an effort to identify them should they turn up murdered, an all-too-common fate for sex workers.
Many adult sex workers, however, start off as trafficking victims, which is why DFWTraffick is bringing director Libby Spears's Steven Soderburgh- and George Clooney-produced documentary Playground to the Kessler tonight. Many think of human trafficking as something that happens far away in foreign countries, but Sara Taylor says there's much that goes on here in North Texas that people have no idea about. She's hoping Playground will open some eyes. The screening's tonight at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a panel discussion about trafficking.
I asked Taylor to do a Q&A about the doc and her work with DFWTraffick, and it continues after the jump, along with a trailer for the film.
What is Playground about?
Many people don't realize that sex trafficking is alive and well in the United States -- it is not just happening internationally. Playground is a documentary by Libby Spears that investigates the trafficking of humans for sexual purposes in the United States. The film follows the stories of real women as it weaves a story that exposes the multi-faceted and money-driven industry of the sex trade in our country. The subject matter is intense, and the movie is not easy to watch, but it is done with clarity and is highlighted with poignant illustrations and a strong soundtrack that pull you in.
Why was it important for you to bring it to Dallas?
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is a major hub for trafficking. As you'll see when watching the film, Dallas is included in a couple of cases that are mentioned. ... In addition, the Super Bowl will be here in February, and sex trafficking spikes around major sporting events as victims are brought in to our area in large numbers to help meet "demand". The sex industry is not a victim-less industry. The reality is that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12-13 years old in the U.S. My desire was to put the film in front of a large, diverse audience so that, hopefully, people would decide to be difference-makers in this area. We all have different platforms: lawyers, the police force, musicians, artists, restaurant owners, stay-at-home moms -- our goal is to introduce people of all walks of life to this topic and then ask them to consider how they can work toward change in the network that they find themselves in.
Why did you pick the Kessler for the screening?
Our hope is that, by spreading awareness on this topic, Dallas-Fort Worth can mobilize to fight this evil and provide second chances to the victims that are involved in the crimes you'll learn about in the film. The Kessler and the Oak Cliff neighborhood embody rebirth here in Dallas, and we hope that same idea and mentality spreads to filmgoers. For us, it was the perfect setting.
What is DFWTraffick's mission?
Our mission is to create awareness and inspire action against trafficking & exploitation in the DFW area. We see ourselves as an informational hub for the area: Spreading news and events to the public regarding the topic and promoting the different organizations that are working towards change.
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How can people get involved if they're inspired by the film?
We will have a panel following the film where film-goers can hear from industry
professionals about exactly how our community is impacted by the sex trade. They will be sharing ideas for action with the audience. However, the first way to get involved is to learn more about the topic and spread the word to friends and family. In addition, there are organizations both locally and nationally that are doing a lot of good in this area. We will be providing information about the national organizations and will have representatives on hand from some of the local organizations at our screening. Some organizations need donations, others need volunteers. As movie-goers will learn, this problem is multi-faceted -- many broken systems contribute to make this problem what it is. We encourage folks to use the networks they are already in and the talents that they have to spread the word and creatively consider how to help.
Head over to Prekindle.com to get your tickets after watching the trailer: