We are currently wrapping our documentary which will take place in a war torn country and discuss the impact that frequent shelling has had on its populace. You can probably guess the country is Syria from the discussions that we’ve had on forums as well as with some of the readers of our site – asking them what they are looking to get from a documentary such as this.
Your first question may be what is the unique spin will this documentary put on the traditional Syria documentaries that have all ready been done by many of the top BBC and other mainstream news network channels as part of their features. Our answer is that we are looking into a trend that first started getting widespread attention during World War 2 and the bombing of Britain.
You see what happened was that when Britain was being bombed in World War 2 there were many people who were very afraid that they would be the next ones to get killed. Imagine living in a situation where the house next door to you blows up and the family inside is perished. And you never know when the next bomb will hit your house next. It is not the best of feelings and we can only imagine what life was like for the people living in Britain under those treacherous and fear filled days.
However you may be surprised at what actually happened – everyone did not just lose their minds.
Instead many people just resigned to the fact that they may die at some point – in some moment – and many started living in the moment. This may be difficult for people to imagine of war torn countries. The traditional view is that many people are living in these countries miserable, and full of fear. But in fact the human body – and more importantly the human mind is capable of withstanding a lot more than you may realise when it comes to emotional trauma. Of course the noise of the shells hitting the homes is difficult – in fact many people that we spoke to talked about how the sound of shells hitting the houses and waking them up was more of an annoyance after a while rather than a fear of “that could have been me”.
It is a true testament to the human spirit that you will find people in Syria playing cards or back gammon next to a home that was bombed only in the morning – knowing the next mortar could hit them – and not only being okay with it – but joking and laughing about the whole situation. It is a compelling character study and you can believe we are in awe of the bravery of these people – something that we personally would never have the courage to do.
So we hope you enjoy this documentary.
In order for us to be able to bring this documentary to you – when it launches – it’s not just the person behind the camera and the presenter but a big team – and thanks to team building sydney darlinghurst we have been able to organise not just our team but many people to work together – along with the Syrian parliament to bring this documentary to you. Look out for it soon!
“Anonymously Yours” is the outcome of a daring filmmaking operation on sex-trafficking in a military state where nothing is as it seems.
Four Burmese women’s strikingly different life experiences come together to reveal an institution that enslaves them and as many as forty–million women worldwide in the fastest growing industry on earth: human sales. Clandestinely shot deep in the uncharted world of Southeast Asian sex trafficking, the film chronicles the merchandising of women commonplace in a land afflicted with staggering poverty and widespread corruption.
Deep in the uncharted world of sex trafficking in Southeast Asia, four women’s strikingly different stories are pieced together to reveal an institution that enslaves as many as forty million women worldwide. From the backrooms of teashops and restaurants, to five star hotels, the Far East sex trade thrives on the routine merchandising of women for the sexual escape and pleasure of men from all cultures. Through their shocking, video-taped testimonies, Burmese prostitutes initiate Western audiences to the widespread corruption and staggering poverty that are the status quo in much of the world, and the primary causes behind the fastest-growing industry on earth.
Sex for money means big business in the impoverished countries of Asia. In Thailand alone, tourism and the sex industry compose 10% ($27 billion) of the GDP. Filmed in Myanmar (formerly Burma), “Anonymously Yours” exposes a ubiquitous barter of children and women, which supplies a demand so great that the hunt for girls to stock brothels often spills into neighboring countries. Such transactions are commonplace in the region, which is seeped in oppression and unemployment. Here, brothels provide jobs, revenue and diversion, making them a mainstay in virtually every community.
Each female in “Anonymously” shares her own intensely painful experiences as the commerce in this human trade. The documentary builds upon each individual account without introducing the girls’ families—some of which are directly responsible for selling the women into slavery. The lines between perpetrator and victim are blurred as audiences begin to relate to all players and understand their motives rooted in human need. By the end of the film, one can only hope the outcome will be positive as the reformed prostitutes strive to create new and better lives for themselves and their families. However, when the cameras stop, and the girls’ return their appalling realities, it is the audience, made painfully aware of the women’s tragic lives, that is changed.
Anonymously Yours – Director’s Statement
My awareness or interest in the lives of girls who are trafficked was curtly dismissive at best, until I met them. In 1999, my school friend, a Burmese social worker, invited me to visit her repatriation program for girls released from prostitution through raids. What I found were individual accounts of deeply troubling dimensions, each very different from the other. Through the collection of those accounts, a larger picture of grave proportions emerged, compelling me to embark on a journey of deep struggle and discovery.
After my first research trip to Myanmar, I returned shell-shocked and horrified as I processed the incomprehensible. As I began to plan the production trip, I sorted through the obstacles to come. Because Myanmar is a dictatorship, we scrapped our original plans for a 16mm shoot, learning that it is impossible to get government approval for the use of such filming equipment. Instead, we planned to hide our gear. Splitting up two digital cameras and the sound equipment amongst three people, each crewmember entered the country from different routes on different days. Coordination with my contacts was almost impossible as the Burmese government taps phone lines and monitors faxes. The “green light” on the operation changed in an instant as we were told that the trip had to be cancelled, helpless to understand the true nature of the situation.
Once in the country, we carefully went about our dicey operation in the paranoid dictatorship. Our cover as tacky, obnoxious tourists took on its own claustrophobic dimensions as constant double-speak confused even simple communication. To get some of the footage we had to travel to areas off-limits to tourists. In the forbidden townships, we took turns playing the curiosity–seeking, mindless tourist out for a bit of fun, and the serious filmmaker, documenting a world that supports staggering dimensions of poverty and widely accepts the trafficking of girls and women. Our luck seemed to have run out when the military personnel stopped us. I had no feelings or thoughts as I stood breathless, until the officials were satisfied that the pale foreigners—stupid enough to have lost their way—understood that they were not welcome to return.
As the days of shooting wore on, the tension of getting the tapes out of the country became painfully real. The intensity of the situation left us unable to even speak our concerns—we knew far too well what being caught with the tapes would mean. Several days before our staggered departure was to take place, a brave woman asked if I could take some gifts back to Boston for her so as not to burden her visiting family member who had other stops to make before returning to the US. I understood her encoded proposal—we would make a trade—the tapes for the gifts. For risking her well being to bring the film to the U.S., I cannot thank that woman enough.
The rest was a blur as we struggled to leave the country. In the Bangkok Airport, I shed the tourist cover that, while robbing my identity, had also shielded me from detection, making possible my safe return. I realized that to ensure the safety of those who had helped me on my quest, I would have to provide them the same anonymity. The name of the film was clear—from the girls sold for sex to those who smuggled out the tapes, they remain anonymously yours.
Four families’ pursuit of heaven unites them with an ancient city and its sacred river, the centuries-old wellspring of India’s faith.
In the city of Kashi the power of Ganga, the Hindu mother-goddess of the Ganges River, is strongest. Each dawn she calls her children to the ghats, the steps leading down to the water’s edge. The young and strong purify themselves in Ganga’s polluted waves. The old and the infirm, too weak for rituals, wait for death. In time, Ganga carries their souls, released from the bondage of reincarnation, to heaven. Their bodies, as ash afloat her crests or flesh submerged in her depths, return to the river. Once privy only to the dead and those who mourned them, the final journey of the devout Hindu is the subject of Gayle Ferraro’s latest film, “GANGES: River to Heaven.”
Filmed in a hospice for the dying and on the ghats of Kashi, India’s religious heart, “GANGES” follows four families’ struggle to grant a loved one’s final wish: to go to heaven. In their common quest the families become a fraction of the hordes of Hindus drawn to Kashi’s holy promise of freedom from reincarnation. As the clans prepare for death, the citizens of Kashi manage life—praying for health, dumping industrial waste, begging for pocket change, bathing their children, selling to tourists, monitoring fecal chloroform levels, cremating their mothers-—all along the banks of the Ganges River. The families’ preparations go virtually unnoticed on the river, where death is a daily part of life.
“GANGES: River to Heaven” investigates the inextricable bond between a river and its people with unparalleled intimacy and depth. From the ghat workers gathering wood for the next cremation, to the chemists gathering water samples for contamination testing, each perspective sheds new light on India’s evolving society and its unchanging veneration of the Ganges. The documentary of a sacred river, polluted from years of overuse, “GANGES” wonders if the natural force strong enough to sculpt the peaks of the Himalayas and the beliefs of a nation will survive the adoration of generations to come.