- Federico Segarra
- Run Time
- 1 hour and 35 minutes
- Not Rated
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Director Federico Segarra’s film, based on a true story of child trafficking, delves deeper into the subject than the popular theatrical film Sound of Freedom (which was reviewed in last month’s VP). This plot continues long after the victim’s rescue, showing her struggling with nightmare-fueled fears in a recovery program, including her fear for life if she should testify against the crime boss for whom her abductors had worked. Along with tackling the same subject, this is also is a faith based film, and thus has aroused disdain from some who are not comfortable watching characters struggle with meaning and find a sustaining faith.
The film opens with shots of a scared teenage girl running through a woods as we hear her voice narrating that as a child she had a dream of becoming a ballerina but that she was sold into slavery by her mom’s boyfriend. Cut to a group of teenagers, girls and boys, being taken out of a van. The chief thug reports over his phone that one of them has escaped. He is so enraged over this that he herds the kids, their mouths taped shut, into a room and douses them with gasoline and sets them ablaze.
Enter Special Agent Ryan Colbert (Cameron Arnett) and his partner, examining the charred bodies. When one mentions that one victim has a tattoo on a wrist and is asked about the others, the reply is that’s the only one with any skin left. Ryan, stating that he has given his life over to catching child abductors, vows to hunt down the brutal killers.
The film shifts to the girl who got away. She is Adriana Miller (Brooklyn Wittmer), who had dreamt of becoming a ballerina. However, her alcoholic mother and series of abusive boyfriends squash that dream, the current boyfriend selling the daughter to the murderous human traffickers. Adriana finds momentary sympathy at a police station where a female officer tries to break through her trauma, but as soon as she is left alone, the girl runs back into the streets.
Eventually she does find herself in a shelter where everyone is dedicated to helping her recover. This even includes a dance instructor who senses she has the talent and the determination to become a dancer. But can she summon the strength to overcome her fears? Should she testify in court, she would have to face the man behind the gang that had mistreated her and murdered the teenagers with whom she had been bound. For agent Colbert she is key to his being able to prove in court the guilt of the brute who once before had escaped prosecution.
The shelter is located in the country, equipped even with a stable of therapy horses—and most important for Adriana’s recovery, run by Christians. Thus there are nightly campfire songs led by a young man who confesses his faith, and where others also give their testimonials. It is at one of these that Adriana accepts Christ, which becomes a turning point in her fearful struggle about finding the courage to testify as a witness in the trial of the kingpin of the sex trafficking ring.
Another character that the film cuts away to at times is Arthur (Cory Kays), Adriana’s would-be boyfriend who searches for her after she disappears. His talk with the church’s pastor is an inspiring scene in which the sympathetic clergyman responds well to the young man’s doubts. He does not try to explain away adriana’s dire situation but does observe that out of suffering sometimes comes an unexpected blessing, thus affirming the apostle Paul’s bold statement in Romans 8:28.
We also see intercut shots of Adriana’s drug-addicted mother Marie Miller (Ariana Ruckle). Like so many desperately lonely addicts, she has chosen the worst possible men for companionship. Late in the film she is deeply remorseful, craving the forgiveness of her abused daughter before death overtakes her in a hospital. The concluding scenes of Adriana becoming a ballerina and forgiving her neglectful mother are a bit too pat, which is to say Hollywoodish, but they do not spoil (entirely) the film. Those concluding scenes are typical of faith-based films, so you long-time readers know that I approached it with reservations. However, it turned out to be a cut far above most films of this genre.
Several of its characters speak the language of faith, but the film does a good job of showing, rather than just telling how faith can overcome fear. No preached sermons, the film itself being a sermon, or for me a visual parable, informing and challenging us concerning the growing problem of child trafficking. Unlike with Sounds of Freedom, the producers apparently lacked a publicity budget, so this worthy film has drawn almost no attention—so far there are NO reviews of it available on IMDB.com, something truly remarkable! Be thankful for streaming services–you can watch the film on Tubi.
The film is a good tool for drawing attention to an important issue, human. The film’s crowdfunding page says two children are sex trafficked every 60 seconds, while 10 will be stolen and enslaved every five minutes on average. It also is stated:
“Every year, an estimated 300,000 American children are at risk of being lured into the sex trade, some as young as six years old. On average, two children are sold every minute, and it is thought that up to 90 percent of victims are never rescued. READ THAT AGAIN. 90%. And for the 10% that are returned home, PTSD, depression and suicide are the norm as they struggle to re-enter society, many without any resources within reach to give them any hope of healing. This is where you come in.”
This review will be in the Sept. issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.
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