The director of “Not My Life,” a documentary that takes an unflinching look at global human trafficking as a children’s issue, has an innovative plan for getting his message out.
It’s not enough to show the film in theaters and on TV and maybe win a few festival awards, says Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert Bilheimer. The director wants to put hundreds of thousands of free copies of “Not My Life” on the front lines, distributing them to governments, businesses, NGOs, corporations, civic groups, educational institutions, and national and international organizations.
The film as tool
Modern day slavery affects every country on earth, Bilheimer says. The pain of this colossal global tragedy needs to be communicated to a huge international audience.
Bilheimer traveled to five continents and 12 countries and witnessed the crisis firsthand during four years of filming. His expectations are high because the need is great.
”Global human trafficking and modern day slavery is primarily a children’s issue,” he says. People fighting slavery on the front lines know the victims. “They’re all kids,” Bilheimer says in a video on the “Not My Life” website, http://notmylife.org/distribution. It’s easy for traffickers to go after children who are naturally vulnerable and naïve.
“What does this mean for us as a human family?” Bilheimer asks. “We’re cannibalizing our own children.”
Because the need is great, Bilheimer wants his film shown at the grassroots level. He wants to give “Not My Life” to organizations such as the Polaris Project, UNICEF, the U.S. State Department, NGOs and the Somaly Mam Foundation, which fights child exploitation, violence against girls and child labor.
He’ll let them make as many copies as they need and show it to as many people as they can in churches, classrooms and community meetings all across the globe from Africa to Arizona.
Modern day slavery is a multi-billion industry. Bilheimer paraphrases Lou de Baca, the state department’s anti-trafficking czar, who said slavery has always been here, it’s just that lately we’re beginning to shine a spotlight on it.
Bilheimer seeks underwriting to finance his goal: He wants 500 million people to see “Not My Life” in the next three years. He feels the goal is reachable if organizations use the film as a communication tool in their day-to-day field work in communities around the world First, individuals and organizations with money must step up and finance the project.
There are many organizations here in Wilmington, NC that can join Bilheimer’s partnership: Girls, Inc., YWCA, American Association of University Women, American Business Women Association, Masons, Elks, Shriners, Lions, Rotary, Jaycees, Junior League, League of Women Voters, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Club, Child Advocacy Commission, garden clubs, Habitat for Humanity, HOLA, Jack & Jill of America, Moms Club, Newcomers Club, Optimist Club, Democrat and Republican parties, Salvation Army, Smart Start, Special Olympics, churches, sports clubs and schools–to name a few. These same groups are found in every state in the country. Think how successful “Not My Life” will be when even half of them partner with Bilheimer and Worldwide Documentaries, a non-profit organization.
“Slavery is the defining human rights issue of modern times,” Bilheimer says. He has faith that people will shine a spotlight bright enough to eliminate this human tragedy.