Lost Girls director Julia Verdin talks raising awareness of sex-trafficking
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“They can sell a gram of coke, or heroin, or a gun once, they can sell a young girl thousands and thousands of times.” These words, spoken in our interview by producer and director Julia Verdin, highlight one of society's biggest growing problems. The dark and distasteful world of sex trafficking is not often in the forefront of people’s minds. We think of sex trafficking as mostly a connected issue to human smuggling or as a product of drugs, destitution and family degradation. We may not realise that sex trafficking is not a connected issue; it is a huge issue in itself. As Julia says “Often what happens with dark subject matter is people don’t want to look at it, its pushed to one side but ultimately [trafficking] is something that desperately, desperately needs more awareness.” According to Unicef by ‘2020 sex trafficking will overtake drugs and weapons as society's most pervasive crisis’ – the exploitation and enslavement of girls as young as 12 and 13 is becoming the latest criminal business. Julia’s educational short film Lost Girls is her attempt to raise awareness of child sex trafficking in America. The film has featured in the LA Shorts Fest and Raindance Film Festival and has recently won LAIFF award for Best Drama Short and Best Ensemble Cast. Having produced 32 films to date, including The Merchant of Venice (2004) with Al Pacino, and 2 Jacks with Sienna Miller and Danny Houston, Julia decided this time to turn her hand to directing. “I read a number of scripts and I didn’t really find anything that I felt had the heart and soul of it, I was thinking about the subject matter I wanted to tackle and I though, you know, this is something I am really passionate about and a story that I want to tell.” The motivation for Lost Girls comes from Julia’s desire to raise awareness of child trafficking and prostitution in America, but what gave her the inspiration for the story was volunteering at Children of the Night, a charitable organisation in LA which works to end trafficking and takes care of trafficked girls. Julia saw how withdrawn the girls were, on hearing their stories she got a sense of why. “They were locked into rooms, having to have sex with fifty men a day, being dressed up and put out onto the street.”
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