The New Abolitionists,” a documentary by director/producer Christina Zorich, will screen at Decorah, Iowa’s Oneota Film Festival, Saturday, March 5 at 4:10 p.m. at T-Bock’s Bar & Grill (downstairs) and Sunday, March 6, 11:15 am at T-Bock’s Bar & Grill (upstairs) Admission is free.
The film traces Zorich’s journey as she follows committed abolitionists across Southeast Asia as they attempt to affect change and end human sex trafficking. Over the course of the film, she follows the trajectories of Christian ministries and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that rescue children and adolescents trapped and enslaved in the sex trade in Cambodia and Thailand. They educated her on the causes and conditions that led to the flourishing of this criminal industry, government complicity, and the structure they used to solve the problem: Rescue, Rehabilitation, Prosecution, and Prevention.
Heartbreaking stories ensue of young people of both genders, many of whom have been betrayed by close family members who sell them to traffickers for financial gain. The programs that many of these organizations offer help these victims gain financial freedom and self-esteem through job training in a safe and loving space. Due to the danger involved, some of the people Zorich met were unable to become involved in the film as the exposure would reduce their visas and their ability to do their renegade jobs safely.
The film has been a long journey for Zorich. She made 2 trips to the region, the first in 2015, where she laid the foundations for a longer shoot, meeting the people involved in these rescues. She used the footage from the first trip to refine the film she would eventually make – testing the footage with focus groups and took an online course with documentarian Darren Wilson. She returned to the area a year later, shot 600 hours of footage and spent the next 3 years editing her film.
“With this film,” says Zorich, “I set out not only to expose the causes of trafficking, but to reveal practical solutions. I hope learning from these courageous abolitionists will inspire others to join to the struggle in any way possible.”
Zorich directed and produced the film. Landon Satterfield served as the film’s story editor as well as co-editor with Zorich. The couple worked together for 3 years to shape the story. Zorich’s mother, the Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakiscame on as a producer during post-production, to help finish the film.
The mission of the Oneota Film Festival is to build and maintain a community of film lovers through screenings and discussions. As a non-profit, community-based organization, they strive to bring quality films to Decorah and surrounding communities that explore critical issues or address the great challenges of our time, such as environmental issues, concerns communities and human rights.
“The New Abolitionists” will screen Saturday, March 5 at 4:10 p.m. and Sunday, March 6 at 11:15 a.m. at T-Bock’s Bar & Grill, 206 West Water Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. Admission is free.