by Lisa DeAngelis
“From Liberty to Captivity,” a feature-length documentary about sex-trafficking in Pennsylvania, began on the night Debbie Wright watched from a window of her home in a sleepy river town in Bucks County as FBI agents raided her neighbor’s house and confiscated videos of young children being brutally raped and tortured.
Her film was born of the horror and repulsion she felt at witnessing firsthand one way, but certainly not the only way, the modern-day slave trade operates.
In the following years, Debbie would educate herself in the many methods of exploiting the vulnerable that are practiced all over the world, and are especially active in the I-95 corridor of our own Pennsylvania, ironically a state with so rich an abolitionist history.
The film has won several prestigious awards, among them, Top Indie Film Awards for Best Documentary Feature, Best Message, and Best Editing, and Best Documentary at the Philadelphia Independent Film Awards Festival.
It has been chosen as an Official Selection for film festivals in Virginia and New York.
It was a Finalist for The Monthly Film Festival (TMFF) and an Official Selection for the Dumbo Film Festival.
Last January, which is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick presented Debbie with the flag that was flown over the US Capitol and the Proclamation that was read by House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi at the request of Congressman Fitzpatrick, in honor of the film’s Leadership Team for their “Mission to Shine a Light on the Reality of Sex Trafficking.”
The film has been shown at universities, colleges, social service agencies, independent theaters, and churches across many counties in Pennsylvania, as well as having its New England premiere in the Boston area.
Other screenings in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Arizona, and California are in preparation.
Recently it was announced that Kim Checkeye has joined the film’s Leadership Team to work with Debbie on the development of the vision and blueprint for the education arm of From Liberty to Captivity, which will include the design of curricula and the conducting of training sessions for students, front-line workers (teachers, social workers, health care workers, etc.) and the general public, utilizing the film itself and customized, edited segments of the over 100 hours of footage that wasn’t used in the film from over 60 survivors and experts.
The plan is for Kim to ultimately lead the implementation and operations of FLTC’s education arm.
Like many of us, she was at one time naïve about the rising epidemic of human trafficking in our community and the world.
Once she realized the gravity of circumstances surrounding the sex trade, like Debbie, she could not sit back and do nothing as the greatest injustice in the world today unfolds.
Kim is well qualified to join Debbie in the fight having trained law enforcement, service providers, front line workers, attorneys, health care providers and community groups, as well as having assisted on several sting operations to provide direct services.
Kim is also an advisor to the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance, where she assists on the rapid referral process, membership and advises residential programs across the nation.
The mission of the FLTC’s education arm is to educate and train both the private and public sector on the pervasive reality of sex trafficking and equip professionals and communities to identify victims and assist survivors.
From Liberty to Captivity will come to The New Hope Film Festival this summer, July 19th-28th, as one of its scheduled features and will be shown on July 20th.
Tickets can be purchased at newhopefilmfestival.com/tickets.