What do you know about Human Trafficking? What do you think you know?
We don’t have to look beyond our boarders here in the United States to see some harsh facts on the real life devastation of modern day slavery. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year and according to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children. (Feb 25, 2014 statistics)
As a matter of fact, California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. (Safer California Foundation)
Since the beginning of time, people have been putting a value on other people and turning each other into slaves, whether it be by work force or forced sexual labor.
The movie, Priceless, opens this Friday in theaters with a message of exactly what its title suggests…the value of each of us, is priceless. There is no monetary value on human life.
Inspired by true events, Priceless is the powerful story of James Stevens, who at one time was a good man with a great life — but this has drastically changed. After the tragic death of his wife and losing custody of his little girl, James now finds himself at the darkest crossroad of his life. Angry, desperate, and unable to hold down a steady job, he agrees to drive a box truck on a one-time trip cross country for cash — no questions asked. But when he discovers what he is delivering, he is faced with a life-changing choice.
The force behind the film is the Smallbone Family, including the brothers, Joel and Luke, who make up the band, for KING & COUNTRY. Their brother Ben is director of the film and father, David helped produce.
“Part of the DNA of for KING & COUNTRY is this idea of respect and honor in relationships and women being priceless,” Joel Smallbone says. “What we’ve found in our beliefs as men is that people are made equal. The film continues the idea that no one is a commodity and everyone deserves to be loved and loved well.”
I had the amazing privilege of not only seeing this film a couple of weeks ago, but also sitting down with a few of the stars of the film, including Joel Smallbone, Bianca Santos and David Koechner.
One thing is very clear from the interviews…every person involved with this film is absolutely committed to bringing light and hope to the darkness of human trafficking.
The very funny David Kouchner really shines in this film, stepping outside the normal sarcasm and humor he brings to the screen. He has a very pivotal role in Priceless, and I’d suggest that the entire message of the movie, is brought though his character, Dale.
When I asked about how this project came to him, he explained that one of the producers is a great friend of his and “He knew I had three daughters and that something like this might be something I’d want to do.”
And as David and I continued to converse, he interjected, “It’s going on right now, as we speak. Some woman is being forcibly raped for profit.”
My 11 year old daughter, as a huge fan of for KING & COUNTRY, saw promotion for the film and asked me if she could see it. But I had to come to her, after viewing the film and say…’probably not.’
I was very impressed at how far the filmmakers took us in this faith-based film. They did not shy away from the truth of what happens, or protect us, as an audience, hoping the hero’s would come out unharmed. There is a violation scene in the movie, that, even with implied violence, has an immense effect on the viewer.
Director, Ben Smallbone says “It was a constant battle trying to find the line. How far could we take this… in terms of graphicness and reality and language and violence and blood..and the message. How far can we go with the faith message?”
Bianca Santos, who plays Antonia, told me, they actually did film more in the scene, but ultimately, left it more implied than shown.
There is definitely a battle between good and evil here..between right and wrong and between doing what needs to be done to help others, and understanding the sacrifice it can cost you.
One of my favorite lines from this film is “Once you know, you can’t go back to normal life again. It changes you.” I think this is true of any situation. When we know better and know the right thing to do and don’t do it…well, we have to live with that, don’t we?
Priceless, The Movie, isn’t just stopping with the release of a film. They are partnering with several organizations to help end modern day slavery and give women a safe place to escape the sex trafficking trade.
They’re working hard to get the message of a woman’s worth and value…and it has nothing to do with money.
We are priceless.
For more information on the amazing things this movie is helping to support and to find a theatre near you where you can see Priceless this opening weekend…visit their website HERE.