Thursday, April 4, 2013

Local social justice groups to present 'Not My Life' screening

The first step in making a difference is making some noise, and Fair Trade Claremont and Traffick Free Pomona don’t plan on keeping quiet.

Fair Trade Claremont and Traffick Free Pomona are joining forces once again on Tuesday, April 9 to host a free screening of Not My Life, a documentary focused on the global reach of today’s continued slave trade. Filling up the seats of the Laemmle Theatre is the initial step in their battle towards a slave-free world.

“Raising awareness is the first step to eradicating human trafficking,” said Tamiko Chacon, pastor of social justice at Pomona First Baptist, one of the event sponsors. The more awareness that exists, the more our eyes are open to what trafficking looks like and how we can get involved.”

Not My Life seeks to give a face to the widespread issue of human trafficking. In the film narrated by award-winning actress Glenn Close, filmmaker Robert Bilheimer travels to 5 different continents in his effort to depict the realities of children stuck in forced labor, domestic servitude, begging, sex tourism, sexual exploitation and child soldiering. The resulting documentary is understandably hard to watch, Mr. Bilheimer acknowledges.

“It is impossible to spend four years among the victims and survivors of these crimes—virtually all of them children—and emerge with anything other than a sense of sheer and utter horror,” the director wrote in a statement.  “Perhaps these and other emotions are ones that the viewers of Not My Life will experience as well, and the ripple effect will begin. This of course is the great potential of the medium of film. It is a profoundly democratic, and enormously accessible way for us to communicate with one another, and better understand the world in which we live.”

While a tough subject to digest, Ms. Chacon found the film’s broad depiction of defining human trafficking particularly poignant. In one part of the documentary, the filmmaker introduces the audience to a young girl who has been sold into sex slavery in the United States.

“Victims [of human trafficking] could be right next door,” Ms. Chacon recognized. “There have been victims forced into slavery, into domestic service, literally in upper middle class neighborhoods. Learning how to spot the signs is another important key.”

Helping victims of human trafficking has become a passion project for the social justice ministry of the local first Baptist church in recent years. Last January the group held an initial documentary screening of a human trafficking documentary at Claremont First Baptist. They were surprised to see a full house, nearly 200 people, in attendance. They hope to repeat their success with a new, amped up venue.

“When you think of the center of Claremont, you think the Village,” Ms. Choco said, adding that the Laemmle has a history of supporting nonprofits and documentary filmmaking. “We thought if we did this in a theater, hopefully we would reach more members of the community, and that was our goal, to help raise more awareness.”

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the movie, about 80 minutes long, will begin at 7 p.m. Seats are free, but space is limited.

The Claremont Laemmle Theater is located at 450 W. Second St. within the Village West Plaza. Entrance to the documentary screening is free, but a limited number of seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Find out more about the film at For more on the sponsoring organizations, visit or

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