My hope is that SOLD: Fighting the New Global Slave Trade will do more than just expose the darkness of slavery today. There are already so many films that document what is wrong with the world, exposing us to image after tragic image, adding to our collective compassion fatigue.
The challenge has been to balance the bleakness with hope. I want people to be outraged by the problem but also to be inspired by our three extraordinary abolitionists. Each of them battles a different virulent variety of slavery, with humor, grace, righteous anger and unflagging determination.
I hope they will applaud, rather than pity, the former slaves in our film. These individuals are living testimony to the possibility that even the most broken of us can be restored, even transformed.
It was important for me to focus on people of different faiths – Hindu, Muslim and Christian – because religion has been intertwined with slavery throughout history. Just as the Bible and the Koran have been manipulated to justify slavery, people of faith have always been on the frontlines of the battle to abolish slavery.
The three abolitionists in our film believe that each of us was created in the image of a creator and therefore none of us should “own” another. human being. Each speaks eloquently about how the former slaves they work with find it easier to recover from the physical brutalities than from the psychological and spiritual wounds of being enslaved.
Frederick Douglass wrote of this horror 200 years ago. “My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished.” he wrote, “The cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!”
It’s this question of human dignity that is central to the film and to each of our three abolitionists. As the film makes clear, it’s a question that cannot be answered in economic or utilitarian terms.