Coming to theatres today, Friday, July 14:
THE WRONG LIGHT
Josie Swantek Heitz and Dave Adams
Montclair, Atlanta, Milwaukee, United Nations Association, Heartland
A profile of a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping sex trafficking victims takes a disturbing turn.
Heitz and Adams began their project as a way to draw attention to the horrific epidemic of child sex trafficking. Learning about the heroic efforts of war photographer-turned-activist Mickey Choothesa to free young girls from sexual slavery in Thailand, the pair set out to profile the work of his organization, COSA (Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia), which serves as a refuge for the girls he saves, offering them food, shelter, education, and love, as one of its residents notes here. The filmmaking duo learned from Choothesa that many of the girls were sold into sexual slavery by their own impoverished families, but that COSA did not believe in punitive measures, even allowing the girls to visit their home villages regularly. But when Heitz and Adams began to interview the girls and their families, they began to uncover inconsistencies, ultimately discovering that much – if not all – of the background Choothesa provided about his charges was fabricated. As the filmmakers try to track down the truth, their film shifts into an investigation into fraud and even more troubling abuse, with not only COSA’s future at stake, but that of the young girls as well. While Heitz serves as an awkward narrator here, her on-camera appearance – together with other members of the crew – is somewhat justifiable given the nature of the story that emerges – one that asks provocative questions about the sometimes dubious motivations behind activism and philanthropy.